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Gareth Bale ‘asked to miss’ Manchester City clash

Difficult relationship: Bale and Zidane PICTURE: GETTY

GARETH BALE’S relationship with Real Madrid appears to have sunk to a new low after coach Zinedine Zidane claimed the Welshman asked to be left out of the squad for tonight’s Champions League match at Manchester City.

The forward has become a peripheral figure at the Bernabeu this season but his absence from the 24-man squad that arrived in England yesterday for the last-16, second leg tie was still a major talking point.

‘He preferred not to play,’ Zidane told reporters in Manchester. ‘The rest remains between me and him but he said he didn’t want to play.’

Zidane was pressed further on the matter but refused to elaborate. ‘I answered before to explain the situation and I don’t want to add anything else,’ he said. ‘The rest is a private conversation between player and coach. There is nothing else to add.’

Asked if Bale had a future at Real, Zidane said: ‘I don’t know. Now he is a current player at Real Madrid. That has not changed. He is our player. I respect that and I respect him, like everyone else. He preferred not to play. That is the only thing I can tell you.’

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola admitted his City side, 2-1 up in a tie that began in February, need to cut out the mistakes if they are to claim a first European title later this month.

Their frailties lie at the back and Guardiola, who will be without striker Sergio Aguero, said: ‘More than just conceding the goals, [it is] the way we concede. We’ve spoken about that, not now, not this week, but in the last years many times in important games. If we want to make a step forward, to be close to win this competition, we have to be better in this area.’