Zinedine Zidane is surprised Gareth Bale remains a Real Madrid player but has vowed to use the Welshman regularly this season.
Bale saw a move to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning collapse in July and looks set to stay at the Bernabeu, despite tenuous links to Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain refusing to go away.
With the European transfer window still open and amid rumours of a falling-out with Zidane, the 30-year-old forward missed Madrid’s previous three friendlies before coming on as a substitute in last weekend’s defeat on penalties to Roma.
Ahead of Saturday’s LaLiga opener with Celta Vigo, Zidane gave Bale his backing and challenged the forward to “make things difficult” for him in terms of his squad selection.
“It seemed that he was going, but now he is with us,” the Frenchman said at his pre-match news conference on Friday.
“Things change and now I will be using him as much as the other players in the squad. I’m going to use all the players I’ve got.
“He is registered with us and he is a good player. I hope all the players here want to make things difficult for me.”
James Rodriguez is another player facing an uncertain future in the Spanish capital, having yet to feature for Madrid since returning from a two-year loan spell with Bayern Munich.
Like Bale, though, Zidane will give rumoured Napoli and Atletico Madrid target James an opportunity to prove himself.
“James is fit and we are happy to have him in the squad,” Zidane said. “I’ll repeat what I said before – I have a big squad and I’ll use all the players. They’re all happy to be here.”
Zidane was brought back to the Bernabeu for a second spell in charge in March and has been heavily backed during the close season with the arrivals of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao and Ferland Mendy.
The transfer window remains open for Spanish clubs until September 2 and there are continued links with Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar.
But Zidane was in no mood to entertain speculation regarding further incoming players.
“Neymar is not a Real Madrid player,” he said. “The important thing is the players that are here.
“Paul is a player who plays for Manchester United, you must respect that.
“I’m happy with the players I’ve got. I’m just focused on the game tomorrow, nothing else.
“We are ready and want to play a good game. I’ve got the best players, I’ve always said that. All I’m worried about is what we are going to do tomorrow.”
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