New Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui previously called Lionel Messi the 'best player in history'

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Julen Lopetegui isn't in the Cristiano Ronaldo camp in the Ronaldo vs Messi debate.

Real Madrid‘s new manager Julen Lopetegui may need to have an awkward conversation with the club’s star player when he officially takes the reins in his new job.

Back in November, the current Spain manager had given an interview to Argentina’s TyC Sports in which he said: “Messi is the best player in history.”

That’s usually a forbidden stance for anyone connected to Madrid, and perhaps Lopetegui will take back his words given his new position as Cristiano Ronaldo‘s club manager, especially considering Madrid may need to put up quite a fight to convince the Portuguese star to stay the the club this summer.

In the meantime, Lopetegui will get a second chance to judge Ronaldo’s talents, up close, as Spain take on Portugal in their Group B-fixture at the World Cup on Friday.

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Julen Lopetegui must resolve Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale futures at Real Madrid, plus other lead issues

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After nine trophies that included three-consecutive Champions League titles in just two years and four months in charge of Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane made certain that his would be a tough act to follow.

The man entrusted with the task of maintaining the Spanish giants’ incredible run of recent success is Julen Lopetegui.

An enormous job awaits the 51-year-old, who is currently leading Spain into the World Cup in Russia, as there are several issues that need addressing once his duties with the national team are concluded.

GOALKEEPER

Reports linking David De Gea to Madrid just won’t go away and if there’s one manager who could persuade the Manchester United star to force the move through, it’s Lopetegui.

He’s shown great faith in the goalkeeper’s abilities having worked with the 25-year-old not just with Spain’s senior squad but also while he coached the younger age groups. Lopetegui will have to take a decision on Keylor Navas and accordingly act to recruit De Gea.

SUPERSTARS

Resolving the futures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale swiftly will serve to pacify Madrid’s support. The Portugal star is likely angling for a pay-rise following his phenomenal form in 2018. Meanwhile, the club’s hierarchy will be keen on retaining Bale’s services after his Champions League final heroics.

The Wales forward, however,  has demanded regular playing time. Lopetegui is a big fan of Spain internationals Isco and Marco Asensio, meaning he must decide whether it is worth giving into Bale’s demands.

STRIKER

With Zidane gone, Karim Benzema has lost his protective shield. The striker is dispensable but with Harry Kane signing a new six-year deal at Tottenham, Madrid’s options in the market are limited.

They could yet make a swoop for Robert Lewandowski or perhaps look at one of the strikers who have shone in Serie A. Lopetegui’s arrival also means a return for Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno becomes a viable option.

YOUNG GUNS

Lopetegui’s extensive work with younger age groups makes him the perfect candidate to help Madrid blood some of the emerging youngsters. The likes of Dani Ceballos, Marcos Llorente and Mateo Kovacic need to be able to relieve midfielders Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.

At 32, centre-back Sergio Ramos will need replacing in the coming years as well with Jesus Vallejo slowly making the grade. Lopetegui will no doubt relish the opportunity to get the most out of Asensio in attack, as well.

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Live Real Madrid blog: Julen Lopetegui announced as Zinedine Zidane's replacement

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All the latest Real Madrid news.

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11:09pm – What lies in Lopetegui’s in-tray

An enormous job awaits the 51-year-old, who is currently leading Spain into the World Cup in Russia, as there are several issues that need addressing once his duties with the national team are concluded.

Brendon Netto looks at what’s on his to-do list.

10:03pm – Lopetegui will allow Madrid to express themselves

Sport360’s Brendon Netto takes an in-depth look at Spain coach and Real Madrid’s new manager Julen Lopetegui.

Read the piece here.

07:11pm – Julen Lopetegui announced as Zinedine Zidane’s replacement

Real Madrid have announced Spain boss Julen Lopetegui will be their new head coach after the World Cup.

Read the full story here.

06:35pm – Rakitic says he would be happy if Cristiano Ronaldo leaves Real Madrid

Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has admitted that he wouldn’t mind if Cristiano Ronaldo decides to leave Real Madrid.

In an interview with Marca, the Croatian talked about Ronaldo’s strengths and how he is someone who is always a threat to Barcelona’s chances of winning trophies.

Read the full story here.

10:00am – Ronaldo unhappy at contract offer

Cristiano Ronaldo is unhappy with Real Madrid’s latest contact offer, according to Marca.

The Portuguese’s future at the club has been cast into doubt since comments he made after the Champions League final last month.

And the Spanish publication has claimed that the 33-year-old superstar is now “more upset than ever” at the Bernabeu.

After helping Los Blancos become European champions for a third successive season, the forward is demanding to earn an equal salary to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi – who takes in nearly double of what the former Manchester United man does.

Messi earns a weekly income in excess of £500,000, but the Madrid hierarchy would be unwilling to pay a salary of that nature to their prized asset.

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