Zinedine Zidane has nothing personal against Kepa Arrizabalaga but Real Madrid simply decided not to sign the Athletic Bilbao 'keeper this month because he didn't want to make any changes to his squad in the middle of the season.
Los Blancos were poised to sign the Spain international during the current January transfer window to provide competition for Keylor Navas ahead of the second half of the season.
Kepa's contract at San Mames was set to expire at the end of the season but last month Marca and other reports in Spain claimed that Real were ready to meet his €20m (£17.6m, $24.5m) release clause this month in order to warn off other potential suitors.
However, days later Zidane ruled out his arrival after claiming that he had complete trust in Navas and current second-choice option Kiko Casilla.
Reports in Spain at the time claimed that Real president Florentino Perez really wanted to sign the keeper but Zidane forced him to change his plans and wait until the summer to complete the transfer.
On Monday [22 January] Kepa all but killed that possibility after signing a new deal at Athletic until 2025 with a €80m release clause.
Some in Spain have since questioned Real's decision as they will now have to pay much more than the €20m required to trigger Kepa's former release clause if they try to sign another 'keeper in the summer.
Asked about his decision and whether Real still planned to sign Kepa in the summer before the Spaniard signed a new deal at Athletic, Zidane said: "Yes, but I have already said it before. In June players can come to Madrid if the club's strategy is to change something. But my idea and that of the club, because we are together, was not to change many things in this January transfer window.
"I heard some comments saying that in the end I won, but my daily concern is my players and what I do with them. I'm not talking about players who don't belong to Madrid. The other day I made a comment about a player and now they think that I want him here,"
"I'm behind my players because they're the most important thing. If they train well and we're positive, we'll achieve very good things. My role is to protect my squad because they're my players and I care about those who're here. That's it. I have nothing against Kepa or any player. I never will have."
Real have also been heavily linked with Neymar in recent weeks amid suggestions that Perez has earmarked the former Barcelona star as the long-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Zidane refused to be drawn over those speculations but asked whether he can see similarities in the Paris Saint-Germain star and the Ballon d'Or wingger ahead of the upcoming Champions League clash between Los Blancos and the Ligue 1 side, the Real boss replied: "Neymas is being important to his team. His stats are incredible but I'm only interested in my players,
"When we see Cristiano Ronaldo, throughout his career, I would like to emphasise that last season he scored eight goals in the final Champions League matches and that means a lot. That's why these players are extraordinary and in big games they always make the difference".