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The Wales midfielder has made an explosive start to pre-season and his team-mate believes that he will be an important figure in the upcoming season

Pepe has praised Gareth Bale for his performance in Real Madrid’s first pre-season match and stressed how vital he is to the team.

The former Tottenham star opened the scoring with a fine effort in the Blancos' opening International Champions Cup game against Inter but, despite Bale’s excellent solo goal, the European champions could only draw 1-1 before losing 3-2 on penalties.

"Bale was good today," centre-back Pepe told reporters after the match. "Okay, he was very good! He will be a vital player for us.

"There is a long way to go before La Liga begins, but we are getting prepared. As always we have to take it one game at a time."

The defender also addressed his own performance, coming after a disappointing World Cup campaign, and was vaguely critical of his condition against Inter after a few weeks out of action during the summer holidays.

"It was the first game of the season, and it shows, but we will continue working to improve," Pepe added. "I’ve only been here a week, but I’m well, in good condition."

Real Madrid kick off their competitive season with the Uefa Super Cup against Sevilla on August 12.

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