The Frenchman recently returned to the Bernabéu as coach 10 months after leaving, but has been furnished with a much greater say-so over transfers and the sporting direction of the club after the disaster of Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari’s reigns.
Madrid are planning a major summer of activity, looking to build around the talents of Brazilian youngster Vinicius Junior, but also need to raise cash and lower the wage bill.
And Zidane has finally tired of Bale, who he had already made available for the right price over a year ago but is now willing to sell for less, with few suitors for a player turning 30 this summer that would require such a financial outlay.
Club president Florentino Pérez has, for years, refused to sanction the sale of Bale back to the Premier League despite annual interest in his services. The Welshman was a Perez buy, a galáctico, and thus previous coaches have found themselves under pressure after leaving Bale out of the line-up.
That special treatment has now ended, however. Struggles with injuries have been a feature of Bale’s time in Madrid and have frustrated supporters and local media, as well as Zidane.
It is why the Frenchman is ready to move forward with a new-look team next season and those plans don’t include the Welshman.
When asked about the future of Bale earlier this week, Zidane only made a commitment to the player up until the end of the current campaign.
“There are seven games left and I’m counting on Gareth,” Zidane said before Monday night’s limp 1-1 draw with Leganés. “I expect the same of him as I do the others.”
Raphael Varane is seeking either a new contract or a Madrid exit this summer while Isco could join Bale in leaving the club.
“Here there are a lot of players that you could make money from. Lots of clubs really want Madrid players, it’s nothing new.
“Isco is an important player and I like him but we will see what happens next year.”
Zidane has decided to play out the season before letting each player know their fate but Madrid chief executive Jose Angel Sanchez is already working the phones looking to refresh the Real Madrid squad in Zidane’s image.
Bale is not part of those plans, but with a gross salary of nearly £500,000 per week and the hope that he would command a transfer fee of nearly £100m, Sanchez and Perez are going to have to make a decision that balances saving face when selling with the express wishes of their manager.