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Zidane: "We hope he leaves soon"

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Bale "very close to leaving"

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane says that "it would be best for everyone" if Gareth Bale departed Real Madrid in the coming weeks, adding that the Welshman is "very close to leaving" the club amid interest from China.

The 30-year-old forward has been isolated from the first-team fold at the Bernabeu throughout the previous year, and was left out of the Los Blancos squad for their recent 3-1 pre-season defeat against Bayern Munich in Houston on Sunday.

It is clear that there is no longer a place for Bale in the Spanish capital, but with three years remaining on his astonishing £600,000-a-week contract, a move away from the club isn't as easy as it sounds. Few - if any - club's are willing to match Bale's colossal wages, which has so far been the sticking point.

Speaking after the Bayern defeat, manager Zidane said: "We hope he [Bale] leaves soon. It would be best for everyone. We are working on his transfer to a new team.

"I have nothing personal against him, but there comes a time where things are done because they must be done."

The hostility towards Bales is incredibly bizarre considering all he has done for the club since his arrival from Tottenham in 2013. The Wales international has won four Champions League's, three Super Cups, one Copa del Rey and one La Liga title with Madrid since his £85m move from north London, scoring over 100 goals in the process.

His overhead-kick in the 2017-18 Champions League final against Liverpool will go down in history as one of the best goals ever scored in the prestigious competition.

In response to Zidane's cutting comments, Bale's agent - Jonathan Barnett - branded the Frenchman a "disgrace", and said that he had "no respect" for a player who has "done so much for Real Madrid".

Barnett added: "We're working on a few things. Gareth is a Real Madrid player but if he does leave it will be his own decision, not Mr Zidane's."

A move away from Spain seems imminent for Bale, with both Manchester United and former club Tottenham rumoured to be interested in a deal which would see him return to the Premier League.

When asked about his side's reported interest in Bale, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said: "I saw in the media but I don't know which club is trying to sign him.

"I don't know if we are or if it's another club.

"It's not my job, it's the job of my chairman, who is trying to build the best squad possible."

A more realistic move, however, could be a mega-money switch to the Chinese Super League.

It is being reported that Beijing Guoan are willing to offer the Welshman a staggering £1m-a-week contract if he joins, which would surely be impossible to turn down, though it would also effectively signal the end for his career as a serious footballer at the very top level.