Real Madrid boss Zidane denies trying to unsettle Mbappe

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has denied trying to unsettle Kylian Mbappe as he stays focused on getting the best out of his own squad.

Paris St Germain sporting director Leonardo criticised the French coach for making “irritating” and “annoying” comments over Mbappe having a “dream” to one day play for Los Blancos.

Zidane, though, maintained he was not talking out of turn, just repeating what the 20-year-old World Cup winner himself had previously revealed.

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“I’ve said nothing, just what the player said, that his dream was one day to play here. Everyone does what they want,” the Real Madrid manager told a press conference ahead of Saturday’s LaLiga match at Eibar.

“I’ll not say anything else. I simply said what the player said one day, that his dream would be to wear the Real Madrid jersey.

“I say it again and I would say it every day. I have nothing more to say about Leonardo, I can say whatever I want.”

Brazilian teenager Rodrygo grabbed the headlines in midweek with a hat-trick in the 6-0 Champions League win over Galatasaray which booked a place in the knockout stage.

Zidane, though, is not “surprised” by the impact of the former Santos striker, 18, and promising 21-year-old midfielder Federico Valverde.

“They are both there to demonstrate things and that is what they’ve been doing lately,” Zidane said.

“My role is to talk with them from time to time, especially at work because they have a lot of quality and future, but if they work hard, they will improve. They are young players and have a lifetime to learn.”

Real Madrid are locked on 22 points with LaLiga leaders Barcelona and Real Sociedad, having been held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at home by Real Betis last weekend.

Zidane, though, is not expecting any other than a stern test when he takes his side to the Estadio Municipal de Ipurua.

“Every match is difficult. Maybe in Eibar it’s more so, because it’s a very different field from the others, smaller,” he said.

“We know the difficulty, but there is no easy game in this league and you cannot say that we are going to have it easy in any match.

“We are ready to put in a good performance, knowing the opponents.”

Gareth Bale has been struggling to shake off a calf problem
Gareth Bale has been struggling to shake off a calf problem (Nick Potts/PA)

Wales forward Gareth Bale, who is managing a calf problem, and Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez did not train again on Friday, so will not be involved.

“They’ve done some work on the grass, but they haven’t worked with the team,” said Zidane, who has a doubt over Marcelo.

“They will go with the international teams and then have five or six days to see if they are prepared to play with the teams or not.”

Eibar have won back-to-back LaLiga matches and last season produced a shock 3-0 victory over Real Madrid in Ipurua.

Coach Jose Luis Mendilibar is hoping his men can provide another stern test for Los Blancos.

“This year the top teams are having a harder time winning, according to you (the media) it is because they have failed – according to us it is because we others have improved,” Mendilibar said at a press conference.

“Real Madrid have great players and if they are plugged in, it is very difficult to beat them.

“If we do not turn up strong, then we will get the same treatment as Galatasaray.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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