Gareth Bale has been left out of Real Madrid’s squad to face Manchester City this week, in a further sign of his relationship deteriorating with Zinedine Zidane.
Zidane has named a 24 players to travel to the Etihad Stadium with his team 2-1 down in their Champions League last-16 tie but there was no place for Bale or James Rodriguez.
Bale, who scored in the 2018 final against Liverpool and has won the competition four times, was left out of the matchday squad on the final day of the season and was an unused substitute in the previous six fixtures.
The Wales forward was training with the Madrid first-team squad this week in their preparations to face Pep Guardiola’s men.
Despite falling out of favour under Zidane, the 31-year-old expects to remain at the Bernabeu for the final two years of his contract. Real blocked a move to Jiangsu Suning in China a year ago when he could have earned £1million per week.
His agent, Jonathan Barnett, has recently stated that Bale will not be going on loan next season either and seeing out his deal until 2022 is the most likely outcome.
"Gareth is one of the best players in the world. The best players in the world do not go out on loan," said Barnett. "He has two years left on his contract. He likes living in Madrid and he is going nowhere.”
Bale has been under scrutiny for his actions while on the bench since football’s resumption after the coronavirus. He has pretended to sleep and pulled his protective mask over his eyes in one match.
Real blocked the China transfer by demanding a fee for the player they bought from Tottenham in 2013 for £85million. His salary, worth £600,000-a-week at Real, would be an obstacle should he look for a move.
Bale and James were left out of the final-day draw with Leganes as a “technical decision”. "The situation changes all the time. You know what has happened with James, and Bale has been a technical decision, nothing more," Zidane said.
Former City midfielder Brahim Diaz has been included in Zidane’s squad, along with Eden Hazard and Sergio Ramas despite being suspended.