Zinedine Zidane has sought to bring the deadline-day rumours swirling around Gareth Bale to a close, with the Real Madrid boss saying that he is still “counting on” the reported Tottenham target.
Speculation in England has suggested that the former Spurs star is back on the recruitment radar of those in north London.
A breakthrough was said to have been achieved by Premier League heavyweights, with Jose Mourinho still in the market for attacking reinforcements.
Zidane has moved to rubbish those reports, with there no plans at Santiago Bernabeu to part with any proven performers before the January deadline.
That means that Bale will be staying put and talk of a retracing of his steps to Britain can be shelved for another few months.
Quizzed on the latest gossip, Zidane told reporters: “Gareth is here with us and I am counting on him. I am not contemplating this possibility [of letting him go].”
Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, has previously moved to rule out any chance of his client being allowed to leave Real on loan.
That means a permanent deal would have to be done for the Wales international.
It is unlikely that an agreement could be thrashed out with the clock ticking down and Zidane has stated on a regular basis of late that he retains full confidence in Bale.
He said recently after seeing the 30-year-old pick up another untimely knock: “I always defend my players. It's not that I need to. They train every day, they work hard and want to defend the Real Madrid badge.
“It's true he's had a few injuries but you can't do anything when a player is injured.
“Hopefully he can string together more games, a few training sessions, get minutes under his belt and get back into playing and training at the same pace as his team-mates.
“When he is fit we want him to come back and be in good shape. It is a shame. He is not happy because he wants to be training with the side.”
While Zidane has stood by Bale, many outside of Madrid have called on the Welshman to consider a switch elsewhere.
Former Spurs team-mate Dimitar Berbatov told Betfair of a forward who continues to attract criticism for form, fitness and supposed lack of commitment to the Blancos cause: “I love watching Bale when he plays, I want him to stay fit and healthy, if he wants to stay at Real Madrid I'd like him to stay, but if he wants to go, I'd like to see him go back to Spurs or go to Man Utd.
“In the end it's all down to him, obviously he likes it there.”