Bale named in Real Madrid squad after Wales banner controversy

The Wales star has been included at the expense of Vinicius Junior ahead of the weekend’s match with Real Sociedad

Gareth Bale has been included in Real Madrid’s squad for their LaLiga encounter with Real Sociedad despite the controversy caused by his celebrations after Wales’ successful Euro 2020 qualification.

Wales booked their place at next year’s finals with a 2-0 win over Hungary in Cardiff on Tuesday.

Bale, who has not played for Madrid since October 5, featured from the start for Ryan Giggs’ side and was pictured after the match singing and dancing behind a banner that read: ‘WALES. GOLF. MADRID…IN THAT ORDER’.

The slogan originates from a chant by Wales supporters that pokes fun at perceptions among the Spanish media, who have accused Bale of bumping Madrid down his list of priorities and spending too much time on the golf course.

Those celebrations drew further criticism from sections of the Madrid press and Los Blancos’ fanbase, but Zidane – whose relationship with Bale has reportedly been a troubled one – claimed on Friday that the issue had been overblown.

Speaking on Friday, the Frenchman said: “I think a lot of noise is made with Bale’s gesture and what needs to be done is to focus on football, me as a coach and he as a player. It’s too much already.

“The player has left with the national team, he has been able to play and we got him back. I only look at sports performance, not what is said outside. I am not interested in the outside.

“I’ll always say the same. When you look at what he has given this club, and its fans, the ones who come to the stadium know that he is one of our own, and the fans must be on his side.

“I think he can be a decisive player. I only think about that. If something does not happen to him, he is a very important player. When something happens to him, of course, like when he is injured, it changes. I am going to count on Bale.”

Zidane has now included Bale in his squad for Saturday’s clash with Sociedad, who would move above Madrid with a win at Santiago Bernabeu.

Bale’s inclusion comes at the expense of Vinicius Junior, with the teenage winger missing out on the 19-man selection.

Vinicius has made eight appearances in La Liga this term, though only four of those have been starts.

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