Zinedine Zidane has praised Gareth Bale’s “willpower” in his recovery from injury, and despite initial reports of dressing room unease at his world record transfer from Tottenham, Zidane, now assistant coach at Madrid, claims Bale has “integrated well”.
The £86m winger’s return, expected for the crucial El Clasico at the Nou Camp on 26 October, will be a timely boost to a Madrid side currently sitting in third place in La Liga, five points off joint-leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Bale has endured a frustrating start to his career in Spain, having played just 133 minutes of competitive football at club level this season. A thigh injury caused him to miss most of pre-season with both Spurs and Madrid, but Zidane, who was also once the world’s most expensive player when he moved from Juventus to Madrid for £46m in 2001, says Bale is using the international break to work his way back to full fitness.
Spanish newspaper Marca is reporting today that the Welshman is undergoing an intensive training regime alongside fellow sidelined Galactico, Xabi Alonso, at Madrid's Ciudad training complex, and while the next Madrid fixture against Malaga a week on Saturday is likely to come too soon for him, he is set to come back for the vital Barca match.
“He was lacking a bit of physical preparation when he arrived so it has been a bit delicate in the beginning with his physical state,” Zidane said. “The only thing that is lacking with his condition is that he hasn’t trained enough with the rest of the team.”
“He has a lot of willpower and has now re-started training. He will be ready.”
On previous reports of certain noses at the club being put out of joint at Bale’s fee, Zidane said: “He’s integrated well at the club and everyone has received him very well.”