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Gareth Bale: Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane to ‘count on’ Wales forward

Gareth Bale: Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane to ‘count on’ Wales forward

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane says he will now “count on” forward Gareth Bale despite previously saying the Wales international could leave.

Bale was expected to join Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning in July.

Zidane said at the time his departure would be a “good thing for everyone” before the Real blocked the move.

New signing Eden Hazard sustained a thigh injury in training on Friday and Bale may now be considered for their La Liga opener at Celta Vigo on Saturday.

“It looked like he was leaving but now he is here and now I’m going to count on him, just like all the other players that are in the squad,” said Zidane.

“He has a contract, he’s an important player and I hope all the players want to make it difficult for me to pick the team.”

As well as Hazard, who is expected to miss three to four weeks, Real are without long-term absentee Marco Asensio and left-back Ferland Mendy, who has a calf problem.

The injuries mean Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez is also in contention to make his first competitive appearance for the club since returning from a two-year loan at Bayern Munich.

“He is in shape and I’m glad to have him,” added Zidane.

Bale, 30, joined the Spanish club for £85m from Tottenham in 2013 in what was then a world record deal.

He has three years left on his contract with the Bernabeu club, where he has won four Champions Leagues, one La Liga title, a Copa del Rey, three Uefa Super Cups and three Club World Cups.

Bale scored three goals, plus a penalty in a shootout, in four Champions League finals for Real as they won the competition in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

However, injury problems have limited him to 79 La Liga starts in the past four seasons.

He played 42 matches for Real Madrid last season but was booed by the home supporters at times during the campaign.

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