By James K. Attaglo Wilson

Gareth Bale’s omission from a 24-man Real Madrid travelling party for today’s Champions League second leg match against Manchester City at the Etihad has fuelled another speculation that the Welsh attacker could leave the club.

But Zinedine Zidane insist the 31-year-old forward who did not play a single minute of Real’s final six La Liga matches told him to exclude him.

“It was a personal conversation I had with him. He preferred not to play. The rest remains between me and him but he said he didn’t want to play,” Zidane told the press.

“I answered before to explain the situation and I don’t want to add anything else. The rest is a private conversation between player and coach. There is nothing else to add.”

Asked if Bale had a future at Real, Zidane said: “I don’t know. Now he is a current player at Real Madrid. That has not changed. He is our player. I respect that and I respect him, like everyone else.

“He preferred not to play. That is the only thing I can tell you. The rest of us are all here, preparing for the game. The only thing we are concentrating on is the game.”

Meanwhile, the French tactician said Eden Hazard is fit to face City, despite concerns regarding the Belgian’s right ankle.

To reach the quarter-finals, Real Madrid would have to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg in February.