Zinedine Zidane hinted on Saturday that Gareth Bale could make his last appearance for Real Madrid on Sunday after saying he would make changes this summer ahead of the final match of their miserable La Liga season.
Bale fell out with Zidane towards the end of the Frenchman’s first spell in charge and their relationship has quickly soured again, with the Wales attacker starting just five times since the coach’s return in March and left out completely for Real’s last two matches against Villarreal and Real Sociedad.
Zidane said Bale would be in the squad against Real Betis on Sunday but, asked by reporters if it would be his last game for Madrid, he said: “I don’t know, I can’t tell you. It’s the season finale and next year there are going to be changes. But I don’t know what is going to happen.”
Madrid face Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu in their final match of a campaign that will see them finish third, behind both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, and trophyless after being knocked out of the Copa Del Rey by Barca and the Champions League by Ajax.
Zidane has pledged to make changes once the campaign is over, with several players including Bale expected to be sold, and defended his right to make the big calls.
“It’s my decision,” Zidane told reporters. “That is clear as water. I’m the coach and I will always do what I want to do. If not, I’ll leave. For signings and those sorts of things we have people who work on them but we work together.”
Zidane took charge with Madrid’s season all-but over and their performances have fizzled out in recent weeks. Their defeat by Real Sociedad last weekend means they have lost two of their last three matches and won only three of their last eight.
“The message is clear, it is the last game and we want to say goodbye to the fans with a good game and a victory,” said Zidane.
“It has been a complicated year and I want to convey that we are looking ahead to next season and to show the fans that we will return with enthusiasm to make them proud of the team again.”