Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is ready to “fight” for Gareth Bale’s signature if Real Madrid leave the attacker out of the UEFA Super Cup.
Skopje plays hosts to the annual clash between the winners of the Europa League and Champions League on Tuesday evening, with both sides looking to kick the campaign off with silverware.
Bale is part of the 24-man squad in Macedonia for the match, but speculation continues over the Wales international’s future.
There have been suggestions in Spain that Madrid are willing to part company with the 28-year-old as they move for Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe, giving hope to long-standing admirers United.
Mourinho recently said it would be impossible to bring in Bale, but is now ready to pounce on any softening on their part.
“If he’s playing tomorrow, well, no I wouldn’t think of that possibility of signing on (Bale),” the United boss said in Macedonia ahead of facing his former club.
“If he is playing tomorrow, it is because he is in the coach’s plans and in the club’s plans and because he also has that ambition to continue in Real Madrid.
“So I haven’t even thought of the possibility of signing him on our team.
“If he’s not in the club’s plans, if what you are writing right now is true – I am not sure whether it is or not – that the arrival of another player (would) perhaps (mean) Gareth would be on his way out.
“If he is on his way out of Real Madrid, well, I’ll try to be waiting for him on the other side and try to fight with other coaches that would also like to have him on his team.
“But I think that if he plays tomorrow, it is probably the best confirmation that they’ll keep counting on him during the season.”
Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane had the chance to quash speculation surrounding Bale, yet side-stepped the subject of Mourinho’s comments on three occasions.
“I think what’s important is that the player is feeling well,” the Frenchman said ahead of the Super Cup.
“On top of that, he’s had a lot of continuous training sessions with us and that’s what is the most important.
“At the end of last season it wasn’t easy for him, he was almost out for four months through injury but now he is very well, very concentrated, he trains with the team.
“What interests me and what is important for us is not what the coach said, it’s what we are going to do tomorrow. That is all.”
Zidane was pushed a further two times on Mourinho’s interest in Bale towards the end of the press conference, but offered little more on the situation.
“He will prepare his team tomorrow, I will prepare my team,” the Madrid coach said.
“It’s the same thing with Cristiano (Ronaldo), we’ve also had stories there. I think that people seem to want to blow the story beyond proportion.
“We’re concentrated on what we’re doing and that’s what is really important.”
Asked if it would be crazy to think that the Welshman would not be in the Spanish capital come September 1, the Real coach said: “Well, Bale is a Real Madrid player. That is all I can say.
“What I want to talk to you about now is tomorrow’s match because tomorrow we have a really important match.
“We are here: him, me and all the other players, and all the fans are here for tomorrow’s match only. That’s it.
“So, really, that stuff doesn’t interest me very much.”