Zidane swerves Pogba & Neymar talk but offers Bale fresh hope at Real Madrid

The Blancos boss is reluctant to be drawn on links to superstars at Manchester United and PSG, but is expecting a Welsh forward to stay put

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has swerved talk of Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar joining the club, with his focus locked on those already on his books.

The transfer window remains open for Spanish clubs until September 2 and there has been continued speculation regarding possible incomings at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Zidane, though, is in no mood to entertain rumours regarding supposed targets.

“Neymar is not a Real Madrid player,” he said. “The important thing is the players that are here.

“Paul is a player who plays for Manchester United, you must respect that.

“I’m happy with the players I’ve got. I’m just focused on the game tomorrow, nothing else.

“We are ready and want to play a good game. I’ve got the best players, I’ve always said that. All I’m worried about is what we are going to do tomorrow.”

While reluctant to discuss mooted arrivals at Real, Zidane has moved to bring exit talk around Gareth Bale to a close.

The Wales international saw a switch to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning collapse in July but now appears set to stay at the Bernabeu, despite tenuous links to Bayern Munich and PSG refusing to go away.

The 30-year-old missed Madrid’s previous three friendlies before coming on as a substitute in last weekend’s defeat on penalties to Roma.

Ahead of Saturday’s La Liga opener with Celta Vigo, Zidane has given Bale his backing and challenged the forward to “make things difficult” for him in terms of his squad selection.

“It seemed that he was going, but now he is with us,” the Frenchman said at his pre-match news conference.

“Things change and now I will be using him as much as the other players in the squad. I’m going to use all the players I’ve got.

“He is registered with us and he is a good player. I hope all the players here want to make things difficult for me.”

James Rodriguez is another player facing an uncertain future in the Spanish capital, having yet to feature for Madrid since returning from a two-year loan spell with Bayern Munich.

Like Bale, though, Zidane will give the rumoured Napoli and Atletico Madrid target an opportunity to prove himself.

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“James is fit and we are happy to have him in the squad,” Zidane said. “I’ll repeat what I said before – I have a big squad and I’ll use all the players. They’re all happy to be here.”

Zidane was brought back to the Bernabeu for a second spell in charge in March and has been heavily backed during the close season with the arrivals of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao and Ferland Mendy.

He is, however, going to have to get creative in his opening selections of 2019-20 as Belgium international Hazard has picked up an untimely thigh injury.

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