Zidane not drawn on Bale as he plans Madrid's future
Gareth Bale did not earn explicit backing from Zinedine Zidane as the Real Madrid head coach stated he wants Raphael Varane and Marcelo to remain at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Bale was jeered during Madrid's fitful 3-2 LaLiga win over lowly Huesca on Sunday – the latest unhappy episode in an underwhelming season for the Wales international, who has seen a perceived failure to integrate with his team-mates off the field come under increasing scrutiny.
Zidane left Bale on the bench for last season's Champions League final against Liverpool, only for the forward to come on and produce a match-winning brace in the final game of the Frenchman's initial tenure.
The pre-match news conference for Wednesday's LaLiga trip to Valencia was dominated by questions over what lies beyond a season where Madrid are out of all cup competitions and 12 points adrift of Barcelona domestically.
"We have to respect all the players that are here, players who have done so much here," Zidane said.
"To talk about clearing out the squad is a lack of respect, I think.
"We're going to have some changes, yes, but it's not the time to talk about that now. I will tell you the same until the end of the season.
"I speak to the club, I've told the club what we want. We're already doing that. At the end of the season things will be made public."
On Bale's weekend ordeal, Zidane recalled his past at the hands of the Madrid faithful but offered no guarantees on the player's future.
"I know whistles, it's never good. You have to accept it. I was whistled," he added.
"You have to have the character for it and I think the players that are here have sufficient character to deal with it.
"We're talking about a difficult season but, when things were going well, people were here cheering everyone and that was great for us.
"Gareth's future and other players, we'll talk about that at the end of the season. We've got nine games left."
However, this noncommittal response jarred when set alongside Zidane's wishes for Varane to stay at Madrid.
France centre-back Varane has been linked to Manchester United and Juventus amid reports he is looking for a way out of the Spanish capital, but Zidane replied: "No, I do not want it. We do not want it.
"The important thing is what the player tells me and for the moment he is at the best club in the world. He knows that, he has won many things and he looks fine to me."
Marcelo fell out of favour under Zidane's predecessor Santiago Solari, with Sergio Reguilon regularly winning the nod at left-back.
But Zidane stated the Brazil star, another Los Blancos player rumoured to be a Juventus target, is his first choice.
"I really, really like him as a person – that doesn't matter – but as a player as well. What he's done here has been phenomenal up until now," he said.
"We will always need him, we want more from him. Recently he's been questioned but I like him a lot as a player and he will play more games."
Zidane added: "Let's not forget what Reguilon has done as well, who is the second choice left-back at the moment. He will play again before the end of the season."