Zinedine Zidane remains confident that Gareth Bale will stay at Real Madrid, despite mounting talk of interest from the likes of Manchester United.
After five seasons in Spain, the Wales international forward is being heavily linked with a summer move away from the Santiago Bernabeu.
Injury troubles have blighted his time in Spain and led to him making less of an impact of late than Real had been hoping for when investing €100 million to sign him from Tottenham.
There have been highs – such as a La Liga title and three Champions League crowns – but Bale faces fierce competition for places and is no longer guaranteed a starting berth.
He was benched again for the midweek Champions League clash with Juventus, but Zidane maintains that the 28-year-old remains part of his plans past the end of the season, telling reporters: "My feeling is that Bale is going to stay at Real Madrid next season.
“He is not going to lose his motivation. He is an important player.
“It's true that there are other players playing and they are doing very well.
“I would understand if he wasn’t feeling as motivated, because players want to play every game. But he has to keep working.”
Bale may get another opportunity to impress and prove his worth on Sunday when Real take in a derby date with cross-city rivals Atletico.
There are also big games to come against Juventus and Barcelona over the coming weeks.
Real head into Sunday’s derby with Atletico four points behind Diego Simeone’s side, with both teams playing for second place behind Barca.
“There is no explanation, there have been times this season when things didn’t go well for us,” said Zidane when asked why the derby is now a match in the battle to finish second.
"It happened to us for a long time, especially when we couldn't score goals. We have always worked in the same way and sometimes things don't work out, but we have to keep working.
"It is true that we had a very difficult start, we cannot change that and we can only do what we are doing: playing well. In the league, also, we want to finish the season well.
"We are going to concentrate on tomorrow's game. We are going to think about the three points, we want to try to cut the points gap.
"Atletico deserve to be where they are. They are second, and what we can do is cut that gap."