'Extraordinary' Gareth Bale backed by Julen Lopetegui to be a 'great footballer' for Real Madrid

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Gareth Bale is being backed to hit top form for Real Madrid.

Real Madrid‘s new manager Julen Lopetegui says “extraordinary” Gareth Bale is on a “beautiful path” with the club.

The Welshman’s career in Madrid has been blighted by injury and occasional dips in form, which saw him become a bit-part player last season under Zinedine Zidane.

He scored twice in the team’s 3-1 victory in last season’s Champions League final, including a sensational overhead kick, but cast doubt over his future at the club in the aftermath of that win.

However, Lopetegui’s arrival, coupled with the departure of talismanic striker Cristiano Ronaldo, has given the 29-year-old a fresh lease of life at the club.

“I’m convinced he is going to do a lot this year,” Lopetegui said.

“He is an extraordinary player and he is going to give his best. We will work around him.

“He’s happy, very happy to play for Madrid, that is certain. He is delighted to stay.

“It is a magnificent opportunity for him to show the great footballer he can be.

“I have spoken with him and with everyone. The game plan that we have and what it is giving us… we have started on a beautiful path.”

There has been talk that Bale is set to step into Ronaldo’s shoes as the club’s new star player, while the other member of Madrid’s former ‘BBC’ strike force, Karim Benzema, will also be expected to step up after a rare prolonged dip in form last season.

Lopetegui backed both to show their quality in Madrid’s famous white shirt this term.

“They have been working in an extraordinary way,” he said of the duo.

“I am delighted. They have and everyone has, with commitment and enthusiasm.

“We all have a magnificent opportunity to reinvent the team without an important player, and to reinforce the word ‘team’. We need to have it clear what we want.

“Although it has to be emphasised that we have some great individual players and with them we will try to build a great team.”

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Gareth Bale can fill Cristiano Ronaldo's boots at Real Madrid, says Julen Lopetegui

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Gareth Bale can fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo‘s departure, according to new Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui.

Ronaldo joined Juventus in July, ending a record-breaking nine-year spell in the Spanish capital.

Real’s only attacking reinforcement so far this summer has been 18-year-old Brazilian Vinicius Junior, but Bale – who had also been linked with an exit from the Bernabeu – has been backed to take on more responsibility this season.

“Gareth is happy to play at Real Madrid,” Lopetegui said at a press conference in Miami, according to the BBC.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the main players in the recent history of Real Madrid. He expressed a desire to leave and we allowed him to.

Cristiano Ronaldo gestures

“Gareth Bale is a magnificent player, with so many qualities. He can help fill the void.”

Bale came off the bench to score twice in Real’s Champions League final win against Liverpool in May.

The Wales forward has lifted European football’s biggest prize four times since joining Real in 2013.

Lopetegui has replaced Zinedine Zidane as the club’s head coach since that third successive Champions League success, and the former Spain boss believes he has a squad good enough to challenge again.

“We are delighted with the squad we have and are convinced that we will fight for all our objectives,” Lopetegui added, according to Marca.

“If a player doesn’t come or go, I will be a happy coach.

“With the squad we have, we will be able to face the demands of Real Madrid.”

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Live Real Madrid Blog: Edinson Cavani tipped to stay at Paris Saint-Germain

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It’s Stuart Appleby here and welcome to our latest Real Madrid blog as we keep you up to date on all the latest news from the Santiago Bernabeu on Monday.

Follow our updates below…

11:36pm – Willian says he’s “happy at Chelsea”

Willian was linked with a move to Real Madrid recently, as part of a reported combined bid for both him and Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, but the Brazilian winger says he’s happy at the club.

Read more here.

8:38pm – PSG boss wants Cavani to stay

Edinson Cavani has been linked with a move to Real Madrid.

Edinson Cavani has been linked with a move to the Bernabeu as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, but Paris Saint-Germain manager Thomas Tuchel says he expects the striker to stay at the club.

Read more here.

7:55pm – Chelsea put Courtois talks on hold, search for replacement

Madrid’s pursuit of Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has hit a snag as Chelsea will not hold any talks regarding a potential transfer until they can find a replacement, according to Sky Sports.

More on Chelsea’s stance here.

6:00pm – Ronaldo arrives for first training session with Juventus

0730 Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has arrived in Turin to link up with the rest of Juventus’ World Cup players for preseason training. Several members of the squad are away for the club’s preseason tour in the US – where they will play Madrid on Saturday – but those involved in the latter stages of the World Cup reported to Juventus’ home base on Monday.

Read more here.

3:00pm – Kovacic doesn’t see his future at Madrid

Set to move on: Kovacic.

Real Madrid will not allow midfield star Mateo Kovacic to leave the Bernabeu this summer, despite his reported willingness to move on.

Read more, here.

11:01am – Ramos looks lean and mean ahead of new season

Los Blancos skipper Sergio Ramos has been keeping in fine fettle.

Los Blancos skipper Sergio Ramos has been keeping in fine fettle.

Real Madrid have stepped up their pre-season programme over the past few days in Miami and will prepare for the new La Liga campaign with friendly meetings against Manchester United (August 1), Juventus and Roma as part of the International Champions Cup.

However, one man who isn’t stateside, yet, is club captain Sergio Ramos.

The 32-year-old was given more time off after his World Cup exertions with Spain.

Read more, here.

10:30am – The new kids on the block for Los Blancos

New home: Vinicius Junior at the Bernabeu.

New home: Vinicius Junior at the Bernabeu.

Despite losing Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus this summer, Real Madrid have decided against splurging big in the transfer market.

Instead, new manager Julen Lopetegui seems content on getting the most out of the talented group of players at his disposal. That however, isn’t limited to last season’s first team squad.

Brendon Netto looks at the young stars coming through and who is set to play a starring role in the 2018/19 campaign.

Read more, here.

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