Zidane leaves Bale out of squad for Atletico but dismisses departure rumours

Zinedine Zidane on Friday left Gareth Bale out of the Real Madrid squad to face Atletico Madrid this weekend but said he is "not contemplating" the Welshman leaving before the end of the winter transfer window.

Asked about the possibility of Bale being sold on Friday, Zidane said in a press conference: "Gareth is with us, I'm counting on him. I am not contemplating this possibility."

Bale came close to joining Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning in the summer and English newspaper The Times reported on Friday the Welshman was in talks to rejoin his former club Tottenham.

But a source at Spurs has told AFP they are not in negotiations to sign Bale this month. Another source close to the player insisted he would not be returning to Tottenham in January.

Yet Zidane has omitted Bale from Saturday's local derby with Atletico at the Santiago Bernabeu, despite the 30-year-old training with the rest of the squad on Friday.

Bale was also not included in the win over Real Zaragoza in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, having completed only one full training session following an ankle injury.

Zidane also opted against bringing back Eden Hazard, who has recovered from a foot injury sustained in November.

"We'll see but he has been training with us all week," Zidane had said earlier on Friday. "He could be included tomorrow but we will never take any risks."

Hazard has been out since fracturing his foot against Paris Saint-Germain just over two months ago. He could feature against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey in midweek or next weekend away at Osasuna.

Real Madrid face Atletico on the back of a 20-game unbeaten run. They sit top of La Liga, 10 points ahead of their city rivals and three clear of Barcelona.

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