Sources: Gareth Bale flag celebration 'a bad joke' - Real Madrid

Real Madrid have labelled Gareth Bale's "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order" flag celebration "a joke in very bad taste," sources at the club have told ESPN FC.

Wales captain Bale was pictured laughing and joking with teammates while posing with the fan-made banner after his country secured Euro 2020 qualification in Cardiff on Tuesday.

The image has been front page news in Madrid, where the forward has faced persistent criticism of his injury record and questioning of his commitment to Real Madrid.

Senior club figures have told ESPN FC that there is "anger, but also indifference" at what they see as the latest in a long line of issues between Madrid and the player.

Members of the Real Madrid squad found the celebration funny, ESPN FC has been told, but are concerned that it could further damage Bale's already fragile relationship with the club's fans.

Bale has not played for Madrid since October, when he picked up an injury with Wales, before returning to fitness just in time for this latest international break.

On Friday he admitted to feeling "more excitement playing for Wales" than he does for Real Madrid.

"With Wales, I'm speaking my own language and feeling more comfortable" he said. "It's like playing with your mates down the park on a Sunday."

He added: "I've tried to get back as quick as I can. If there had been a Real Madrid game this week, I would've been fit. Maybe to them it doesn't look great but it's just a kind of coincidence."

Earlier this month Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane dismissed the possibility of a January departure for Bale, maintaining that he is counting on him "until the end of the season."

Club sources previously told ESPN FC that they would like Zidane and Bale to mend what has been a troubled relationship, recognising the difficulties involved in negotiating a sale.

Bale came close to leaving the Bernabeu this summer with Zidane's blessing, only for the club to pull the plug on the move.

Real Madrid return to La Liga action on Saturday against Real Sociedad with both sides involved in a congested title race where just two points separate the top five teams.