FORMER Saint Gareth Bale edged closer towards the exit door at Real Madrid after being left out of the matchday squad for their win against Villarreal.

Head coach Zinedine Zidane refused to discuss the star’s future after snubbing the Welshman.

Despite striker Karim Benzema being ruled out through injury, Bale was deemed surplus to requirements by Zidane, fuelling speculation that Bale will leave the Bernabeu in the summer.

“I’m the coach, I have to pick the team and that’s all there is to it,” Zidane said of his decision to leave Bale out in quotes published on the club’s official website.

“You can interpret it as you wish. I need to pick a squad of players and some are going to miss out.”

Bale has long been linked with a return to England.

Despite a stunning haul of trophies, including four Champions League titles, the 29-year-old has struggled to win over large sections of Madrid’s fanbase.

Bale came through the ranks at Saints, before making his first team debut in the 2-0 win against Millwall in April 2006.

The Welshman left Saints for Tottenham Hotspur in 2007 when the north London side paid an initial £5m for his services which would eventually climb to £10m.

His goals helped play a crucial role in getting Spurs back into the Champions League just two years after joining them.

This led to him becoming, at the time, the world’s most expensive player in September 2013, when Real Madrid forked out £85 million to acquire his services.