By Tim Stannard
Zizou reveals Gareth Bale back injury ahead of Thursday's Valencia clash but says both remain firm friends despite reports
Coach Zizou must have desperately missed everything else that those under lockdown did. The simple pleasures of going for a stroll, grabbing a stuffed croissant at a cafe, taking in Hamilton, browsing through a book shop, seeing friends and family, enjoying a picnic in the park, and having strangers ask endless questions about your relationship with Gareth Bale.
Well, the last one is probably unique to Zinedine Zidane in his role at the helm of the good ship Real Madrid. Because those questions were back again on Wednesday being asked by virtual journalists to annoy the French coach in reality.
Bale was out of the starting line-up in Real Madrid's return match against Eibar and barely made an impact in his substitute appearance. There was an absence from a training session ahead of today's massive match-up against Valencia in the Alfredo di Stefano stadium that Madrid need to win to make it back to a two-points gap from Barcelona.
So therefore, Zizou must be really, really mad at Bale? Again? This time? Go on! Say something mean!
"I respect everything Bale has done and I can't control what you write about Bale, but the relationship is normal," sighed the Frenchman wearily.
Despite Zidane revealing that the Welshman is suffering from a back strain - "or whatever" as Zidane did not say, but probably wanted to - Bale is included in today's matchday squad along with Dani Carvajal, who has recovered from injury after leaving the Eibar game early. Isco is set to miss the encounter due to a muscle issue.
Coverage of Real Madrid against Valencia gets underway at 3:30PM ET / 12:30PM PT on beIN SPORTS preceded by a Champions League-chasing Real Sociedad away at Alaves in a Basque derby.
A win for La Real would see the side jump into fourth above an Atletico Madrid side who surprised everyone, least of all themselves by putting five past Osasuna on Wednesday.
Join Ray Hudson and Andres Cordero on the Sports Burst live show at 12PM ET / 9AM PT for a full look ahead to the day's action. Just head to our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page and beIN XTRA channel.
Chelsea announce signing of Timo Werner
Well. The forecast that the days of multimillion dollar transfers are over due to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 stoppage have so far proven to be...a little off.
$55 million has already dropped by PSG on signing Mauro Icardi from Inter. On Thursday, Chelsea announced that a deal had been done with RB Leipzig to bring in Timo Werner, with the EPL club paying the German striker's buyout clause of $58 million.
To everyone at @ChelseaFC :— Timo Werner (@TimoWerner) June 18, 2020
I’m incredibly happy to be joining the Blues next season! It feels like the right step for me and I am delighted to become a part of Chelsea FC. Really looking forward to playing for such a fantastic and historic club!
See you soon Chelsea fans! 👋 pic.twitter.com/WLcagJCHWt
The 24-year-old has bagged 32 goals so far this season in all competitions and declared that "I am delighted to be signing for Chelsea, it is a proud moment for me to be joining this great club."
The sticky part here though is that Werner will be joining up with Chelsea after the Bundesliga season ends in July, and not after the club's participation in the Champions League in August, where RB Leipzig are involved in the quarterfinal stages.
Baseball back off after being back on
It was sort of back on, now it is sort of back off again. Baseball's return that is.
After two sides appeared to be turning their backs on each other, face to face talks took place on Tuesday between MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred and players' union executive director Tony Clark.
MLB thought on Wednesday that a deal had been struck. The union disagreed which is why on Thursday, the situation is still a question of 'if' the league will start this season rather than 'when'.
The bones of contention remain the length of the season, the situation with salaries and an awful lot of bad blood between the two groups over the past few months.