Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has changed his tune by insisting Gareth Bale “is going to stay” following the club’s 3-1 win at Celta Vigo.
Despite Zidane’s attempts to offload Real’s record signing this summer, he unexpectedly handed Bale a spot in the line-up for Saturday’s La Liga opener in Balaidos.
The Wales international quickly tested the Celta defence by forcing keeper Ruben Blanco into a save. His pinpoint pass then found Karim Benzema, who then slotted home a 12th-minute goal for Real.
Overall, Bale enjoyed a stunning return to the line-up and proved to be an all-round threat for Celta. His direct runs, in particular, proved to be a regular problem for the hosts defence.
While Zidane did eventually substitute him for Isco in the 75th-minute, it took nothing away from Bale. In fact, the Frenchman later confirmed that the 30-year-old won’t be on his way out of the Santiago Bernabeu.
Interestedly, the Real manager also suggested Bale may have started anyway regardless of Eden Hazard’s injury.
“He is going to stay. Everyone we have allows us to think positively. We have to focus on the season and nothing more,” said Zidane, according to Marca.
“Hazard’s injury is bad luck for us but it hadn’t changed the thoughts we had on Bale for this match.
“Gareth, James [Rodríguez], everyone here is going to defend this jersey in the way it deserves.”
Things are looking good at the moment for Bale to make a case to Zidane about making him a regular starter. With Hazard likely out for around three to four weeks through a thigh injury, the winger may have a chance to prove his worth.
Toni Kroos and substitute Lucas Vazquez were the other goalscorers to seal 10-man Real a 3-1 victory. Meanwhile, Luka Modric got a red card for a challenge on Celta’s Denis Suarez.
At the moment, Los Blancos sit top of La Liga with rivals Barcelona down in 18th after their opening day defeat to Atheltic Bilbao.