Zidane: “I don’t think Bale stayed too long, I never had a problem with him”

French former football player and today Real Madrid's head coach Zinedine Zidane speaks to journalists during the presentation of a sports and educational program called "Zidane Five Club" (ZFC), in Aix-en-Provence, southern France, on August 19, 2020.

Zinedine Zidane has had his first press conference of the 2020/21 season and the discussion centred around the transfers of Gareth Bale and Sergio Reguilon to Tottenham, the return of Martin Ødegaard and Sunday night’s match away at Real Sociedad.

On Bale, Zidane was asked if he felt the Welshman had stayed for one season too long. “No, I don’t think so,” he said in response. 

“If he stayed then it was for something. The most important thing is what he wants to do. Things have to be done together, a balance between the club and the player. It’s not [my fault that he’s going]. It’s more complicated than that. I’ve never had problems with Gareth. He’s never had problems with me. He was never a weight on my shoulders. It’s true that he didn’t play as much as he could have last season because we have a squad of 25 players. But these are things that happen in football.”

Zidane went on to discuss Bale’s legacy, while also pointing out that the transfer isn’t fully completed yet. He told reporters: 

“It’s not fully done yet so I can’t say too much. If the transfer happens then I wish him the best, although I’ve not spoken with him yet. What he has done here has been phenomenal. He’s won a lot here at Real Madrid. Nobody can erase what he’s done at this club.”

Reguilon is also departing for Tottenham and the coach was asked for an explanation. The reason he gave was simple – that he already has Marcelo and Ferland Mendy in that position. 

On Reguilon, Zidane said: “I firstly want to congratulate him for the season he just had. We have two players for each position and I have two left-backs. I can’t have three or four. So, I wish him the best. He deserves to be with Tottenham and playing.”

One player who has joined this summer is Martin Ødegaard, who is back from loan. On the Norwegian, Zidane said: “He has matured and his journey so far has been phenomenal. 

Each year he has taken steps and he had a really great year last season with Real Sociedad. He is one of our players and we’ll use him. I have the best players here and I’ll count on all of them. Martin and the others are prepared for the season. He is a quality player and he is our player. Those who come to Real Madrid are the best and he is another one of those. He can be important in this squad.”

Ødegaard and Real Madrid will be facing the youngster’s former club Real Sociedad in the first fixture of the season. Discussing this weekend’s opponents, Zidane said: 

“They’re a good team and they’re always difficult every year. They’re a team that play well and they never stop running. We’re prepared for this. We’ve had enough time to prepare well. We’re motivated. We’re happy that we can play again even during this situation where many are suffering. We’re fortunate to be able to play football.”

Finally, Zidane was asked about the club’s plans for the remaining weeks of the transfer window and he hinted that there could be further developments. “Until October 4th, anything can happen,” he said.
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