Star's agents hits back at Keane and insists Welshman's 'future is at Real'
Carlo Ancelotti will attempt to repel Manchester United's interest in Gareth Bale and fight to keep the out-of-form winger at Real Madrid if the Italian remains in charge at the Bernabeu this summer.
Bale is facing the biggest challenge of his Real career after being subjected to scathing criticism in the Spanish media following his performance in the Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat against Juventus in Turin on Tuesday.
AS, the influential sports daily, gave Bale - and four Real team-mates - 0 out of 10 in their match ratings yesterday morning, with the winger awarded 1 out of 10 by Mundo Deportivo.
Bale, who was accused of "always taking the easy option" and leaving Real with "10 men" by the former United captain Roy Keane following the 2-1 defeat, started his first game in almost a month in the Juventus Stadium after being sidelined in recent weeks with a calf injury.
Despite Keane's withering condemnation of the Wales international and the mounting criticism from both the media and Real supporters, Ancelotti believes that Bale remains a key figure and that his form will return once he regains full fitness.
Florentino Perez, the Real president, is another powerful ally, but support from the top may rest on the club's summer transfer plans and any need to fund moves for players by dispensing with a high-profile member of the first-team squad, as Perez has done over the past two years with Mesut Ozil and Angel di Maria.
Ancelotti regards Bale as a central figure in Real's Champions League and Copa del Rey successes last season, however, and the Italian will urge Perez to resist any attempts by United or other Premier League clubs to lure the former Tottenham player.
With Ancelotti's future expected to be linked to Real's success in the Champions League, though, the former Chelsea and Paris St-Germain coach could lose his job before any decision is made on Bale by Perez.
Despite Bale's partner and young daughter now splitting their time between Madrid and Cardiff, the player is determined to remain at the Bernabeu for at least one more season having cited his transfer to the European champions as the realisation of a dream following his £85m move from Spurs in August 2013. The Bale camp are aware of United's interest, which dates back to the summer of his move to Spain when David Moyes failed in a late bid to hijack the deal, but at present there is no mood to push for a move back to England.
Bale's relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo has also come increasingly under the spotlight due to the perceived frustration of the Portuguese winger with Bale's decision-making. The player was also the subject of widespread mockery on social media as a result of statistics which showed that he touched the ball just 14 times in the first half in Turin - six times fewer than the Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Keane's criticisms prompted an angry response from Bale's representative, Jonathan Barnett, who delivered a staunch defence of his client.
"Why should we take any notice of comments from people who don't know what they are talking about, and from people who have failed in management?
"Gareth is wanted by every club in the world. He is one of the top three players on earth. But why would he want to leave Real Madrid?
"Gareth's future is at Real... in his first year he won the Champions League and the cup in Spain. This time he is in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Why would he go somewhere else?"
Real go into the second leg against the Italian champions next Wednesday knowing that a 1-0 victory will take them through to a second successive final. And Real's Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez admitted that the club's supporters must make the Bernabeu a hostile and intimidating arena when Juventus visit.
"The Bernabeu must be burning and we have to go out to kill them," James said. "But the defeat is not a bad loss. They were lucky. I had a chance that came off the bar, but it was bad luck and it didn't go in." We have to leave this behind and think about next Wednesday. They will sit back and we have to have faith." (© Daily Telegraph London)