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Zinedine Zidane hits back over Gareth Bale, Dani Ceballos set for Arsenal loan

Zinedine Zidane has denied disrespecting Gareth Bale, and claimed the Welsh forward was left out against Bayern Munich because he did not want to play.

“I have not disrespected anyone,” the Real Madrid head coach told a press conference before the friendly against Arsenal in Washington. “The club is dealing with his departure. Period.”

“The other day [against Bayern], Gareth didn’t play because he didn’t want to,” Zidane added. “He said the club was trying to negotiate his departure, and he didn’t want to play because of that.”

After the 3-1 defeat to Bayern on Saturday, Zidane said Bale would leave the club. “I don’t know if in 24 or 48 hours, but it will change. And that’s good for everyone … if it’s tomorrow, better”. That prompted the player’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, to label the coach “a disgrace”.

Zidane added on Monday that “Bale hasn’t asked not to play tomorrow – so far” and reiterated that the 30-year-old will leave the club. “[His] situation is known by everyone and will not change. The club is going to do what they have to do with him.”

Dani Ceballos is reportedly close to sealing a season-long loan move to Arsenal.

Dani Ceballos is reportedly close to sealing a season-long loan move to Arsenal. Photograph: TF-Images/Getty Images

Bale’s most likely route away from the Bernabéu remains a move to a Super League club in China. His options have been limited by his age, potential transfer fee and salary – he is currently on €17m (£15.25m) a year after tax and is unlikely to accept a pay cut.

Dani Ceballos is another player set to leave Real Madrid, with Arsenal reportedly closing in on a loan deal for the Spanish midfielder. Unai Emery hinted the move was close to completion during his pre-match press conference for Tuesday’s game.

“We have been speaking about the possibility to sign one player on loan,” Emery said. “Ceballos is a very good player. I know him from Betis at the beginning, and Real Madrid.”

The Arsenal manager added that he had watched Ceballos during Spain’s Euro U21 triumph this summer, and believes he can play in a central or attacking midfield role.

Arsenal are also set to complete the £27m signing of St-Étienne defender William Saliba this week, with the centre-back returning to France on loan.

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