La Liga

Gareth Bale is a key player for Real Madrid – Zidane

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane expects Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Isco to form key parts of his squad at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Former playing great and Castilla coach Zidane was confirmed as Rafael Benitez’s successor on Monday following a mixed first half to Madrid’s campaign.

Benitez’s departure was reported to have upset Bale, prompting fresh rumours of a possible return to the Premier League.

However, Zidane – who took training for the first time on Tuesday after signing a two-and-a-half-year deal – insists the Welshman is very much in his plans.

“Gareth was disappointed with the sacking of Rafa because he was an important coach for him, but I will treat him the same way Rafa did,” explained the former France international.

“He is an important player and a key player for the squad.

“He’s phenomenal and we’re going to give him all the care and support he needs.”

Rodriguez and Isco were peripheral figures under Benitez, with the former reported to have fallen out with the coach during his seven months at the helm.

Isco has made just nine league starts this term and has been linked with Italian champions Juventus, but Zidane maintains the pair will also have roles to play.

“The whole squad are to be very important. James and Isco are fantastic players and will be very important to the team, the fans and everyone,” he added.

Zidane’s first outing as Madrid boss comes at the Bernabeu on Saturday against Deportivo La Coruna.

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