Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho admits it is "game over" in attempts to sign Gareth Bale from Real Madrid after the Wales international started the Super Cup final in Skopje. Mourinho had stated he would "fight" to sign the 27-year-old had he been omitted from Zinedine Zidane's team to face his Europa League winners but his inclusion seemingly grinds that pursuit to a halt.
Bale started ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and played 74 minutes in Macedonia as Real retained the Super Cup with a 2-1 win over United. Goals from Casemiro and Isco secured Los Blancos claimed the trophy for a fourth time, despite Romelu Lukaku's first competitive goal halving the deficit late on.
But attention quickly turned from the new season curtain-raiser to the future of Bale, who has fallen out of favour at Real four years on from moving to Spain from Tottenham Hotspur. The Manchester Evening News have previously claimed United are interested in a £100m move for Bale but Mourinho has signalled the end of that bid.
"I think so." the Portuguese boss told BT Sport when asked about whether a move for Bale was dead. "I think clearly the club want him, the manager wants him and he wants the club. So for me, game over. Even before it started. But game over clearly because everyone knows he is going to stay."
Bale and his representatives have steadfastly denied any interesting in a return to England, despite continual links with United. The former Southampton academy product remains committed to Real after helping them claim their latest trophy of 2017, a tally which could swell to four when they face Barcelona in the two-legged Spanish Super Cup.
"I'm just concentrating on my football. I'm not listening to anything, I don't read anything, he said. "I get told bits and bobs but I'm enjoying my football, playing as much as I can and winning trophies so that is all I am focusing on.
"Not that I know of [nothing has changed]. I've not had any of thoe conversations. I'm concentrating on my football and trying to get my fitness up as high as I can after pretty much playing fully of eight-nine months."
United produce a much-improved second half display after being outclassed by the 12-time Champions League winners during the opening 45 minutes, but were unable to take the game into extra time. Mourinho was encouraged by the performance and says his side should be buoyant ahead of their Premier League opener against West Ham United on Sunday (13 August).
"They had a period of dominance in the middle of the first half," he added. "We had a period of dominance in the middle of the second half and some balance in the beginning of the game. We were playing a game against a team of fantastic players and we discussed the result until almost the end. We gave them a good fight and my boys have reason to be optimistic and proud."