Zidane: Bale absent due to illness

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Real Madrid's Gareth Bale (3rd L) scores a goal during a Spanish league match between RCD Espanyol and Real Madrid in Barcelona, Spain, on Jan. 27, 2019. RCD Espanyol lose 2-4. (Xinhua/Joan Gosa)

Zinedine Zidane is claiming Gareth Bale was scratched from Real Madrid's preseason friendly against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday due to illness.

Following the collapse of his proposed move to China, Bale did not travel to Munich for the Audi Cup match, which Spurs won 1-0 thanks to a first-half Harry Kane strike.

British media reported Bale was fuming at the refusal of Real president Florentino Perez to approve his departure, with Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning wanting to acquire the 30-year-old on a free transfer.

Zidane, though, did not link the Suning saga to Bale's absence, saying after the match: "Bale didn't travel with us because he didn't feel that well.

"The doctors said he was unwell and the best thing for him was to stay in Madrid. He's training individually in Madrid."

Bale has been used sparingly in Real's preseason, last featuring off the bench in the second half of a 7-3 loss to Atletico Madrid in New Jersey last Friday.

The 30-year-old, who has won four Champions League titles since joining Madrid from Tottenham in 2013, is out of favor with Zidane, who last week said it would "be best for everyone" if the Welsh forward found a new club.

Wednesday's closure of the Chinese transfer window ended any hope Bale had of a mega-money escape route to the CSL.

Tottenham, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain have all been linked with Bale in recent months, but it would seem none of them are prepared to match the $800,000 weekly salary he's getting at Real.

Pochettino prickly

Meanwhile, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino appeared to vent some frustration at his lack of input into the Londoners' transfer dealings.

With a little over a week of the English transfer window remaining, Spurs have only signed two players - midfielder Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon for a club-record 65 million pounds ($79 million) and 10 million pound teenage forward Jack Clarke from Leeds United, who has been loaned back to second-tier side for the season.

Chairman Daniel Levy, the man who oversaw Bale's then world-record sale to Madrid, has retained firm control of the Tottenham coffers throughout Pochettino's fiveyear reign at the club.

Pochettino became prickly after the victory in Munich when asked about leftback Danny Rose's future and possible new signings, saying his job title should be changed from manager to coach as he has no influence over transfers.

"I am not in charge of this. I know nothing about the situation of my players, I am only coaching them, trying to get the best from them.

"Things that may or may not happen - sell or buy players, extend contracts or not extend contracts - it's not in my hands, it's in the club's hands and in Daniel Levy's hands.

"At the moment I am just managing the team in the best way possible.

"The club needs to change my title and job description, no? My job now is to coach the team. It's not a question for me, it's a question for the club and maybe they need to change my title."

Asked if his role had changed recently, the Argentine replied: "That is not a question for me. I am only the person on the touchline managing the team. I don't have an answer. I can only tell you what is my concern."

Meanwhile, speculation that Rose is looking for a Spurs exit could be wide of the mark, with the England international a surprise starter in Bavaria against Real, for whom marquee summer signing Eden Hazard underwhelmed.

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