The Frenchman expects the Wales international to play a key role at Santiago Bernabeu again this season, despite having been linked with a move away

Zinedine Zidane has insisted that Gareth Bale wants to remain at Real Madrid amid ongoing speculation surrounding his future.

The Welshman was expected to leave the club earlier this summer, with the Blancos boss publicly declaring that he was no longer in his plans for the 2019-20 campaign.

However, a proposed switch to China ended up falling through and Bale finished Madrid’s pre-season back in the first-team squad.

Zidane has since performed a complete U-turn regarding Bale’s future at Santiago Bernabeu, revealing he would be staying in the Spanish capital before a season opener against Celta Vigo.

Bale started for Madrid as they opened their account for the new season with a 3-1 away win and he is in line to retain his place in the starting XI this weekend against Real Valladolid.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s clash at the Bernabeu, Zidane reiterated his stance on Bale, urging the mercurial winger to prove he is a “big player” once again.

“What has changed is that the player is going to stay, nothing else,” the Frenchman told a press conference. “The important thing is that the player wants to stay, and we will count on him. He has shown he is a big player, and he must show again the player that he is.

“The other day he played a good game. But not just in what he is good at. He worked hard defensively. We have to stay on that path. Gareth, all of them.

“We know we need to improve, to achieve important things. And they all will.”

Zidane went on to address James Rodriguez’s position in Madrid, with talk of a transfer away from the club still swirling amid reported interest from Serie A giants Napoli.

The Colombian returned to the Bernabeu at the end of last season following a two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich and had been touted for a permanent exit.

However, Zidane is adamant he will also be relying on Rodriguez to help Madrid fight for trophies across all fronts this term, as he added: “James is the same. He plays football very well.

“We are happy to have him back here, and I will count on him as one more, and he is happy to be here. What counts is what happens from here. There are many games and I will count on all the players.” 

When asked if James will replace the suspended Luka Modric in Madrid’s line up against Valladolid, Zidane responded: “We will have to wait and see – who will start, and who will be in the squad.”

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