Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has refused to give Gareth Bale assurances over his future after the Wales international was left out from the start in the Champions League final win over Juventus in Cardiff. Bale has endured the most challenge season of his spell in Spain leading to renewed speculation that Manchester United are interested in bringing him back to the Premier League.
Bale has not started a game since April due to injury but recovered sufficiently to be named among the substitutes at the National Stadium of Wales, before playing the final 13 minutes as Real added a 12th Champions League crown and a third in four years.
Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo saw Real add to their La Liga success and become the only club in the Champions League era to successfully retain the trophy. Casemiro and Marco Asensio also struck against 10-man Juve who despite Mario Mandzukic's stunning equaliser were nullified in the second half and had substitute Juan Cuadrado sent off late on.
Despite speculation in the Italian press, Bale was as expected named on the bench for the final played in the city of his birth as Zidane shunned sentimentality to start with the in-form Isco alongside Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. The former Tottenham Hotspur winger has been out-of-favour this term and Zidane has refused the opportunity to give his full backing to Bale.
"For Gareth it was important that he was with us," said Zidane, just the second coach to win the European Cup in his first two seasons in charge. "It was important for him to reach this final and then I have to choose my players. I feel that it was correct the team that started the game. Afterwards he played for a little while. As for the rest what we're going to do now is enjoy what we've achieved and rest we'll see for next year. But first I want to enjoy it."
The Manchester Evening News understand Jose Mourinho is lining up a £100m move for the 27-year-old Bale, who admitted to not being distracted by the speculation in the lead up to the game. He told BT Sport: "No I haven't read anything to be honest, I don't read anything so it doesn't affect me at all."
There also remains uncertainty over Zidane's own future at the Bernabeu with just one year remaining on his current contract in the Spanish capital. President Florentino Perez says there will be "no problems" with regard to the World Cup winner' future in the wake of claiming successive European Cups, yet Zidane is no clearer on his plans beyond the end of his deal in 2018.
"I'm not going to confirm that I'm going to stay here all of my life that never exists," he added. "It is impossible to tell. What I can tell you is I am extremely happy and grateful to this great club that ha given me the opportunity to coach these players that are also fantastic. I have one year contract left and I think I will be here next year.
"What is important is to enjoy what we've manager to achieve this year. I owe it to this club. To give someone the opportunity, because I consider myself a man of the house because I played with this team for many years, this club or me is in my heart."