Gareth Bale is being backed to fill the “massive void” created by Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Real Madrid, with Ryan Giggs convinced the Wales international can be the Blancos main man.
Parting with a five-time Ballon d’Or winner was never going to be easy for the Liga giants, with the club’s all-time leading goalscorer having left for Juventus in a €112 million (£101m/$130m) deal.
No like-for-like replacement has been drafted in, despite an agreement now being in place to bring Mariano Diaz back to Spain from Lyon, with Julen Lopetegui keeping faith with those already on his books.
Bale, who had also hinted at a summer transfer elsewhere, has stepped up to shine through pre-season and the opening weeks of the 2018-19 campaign, with Giggs convinced that the 29-year-old is the ideal option to step into Ronaldo’s shoes as Madrid talisman.
The Wales manager said: "When someone like Cristiano leaves there is always going to be a spotlight on who is going to replace him goal-wise and threat-wise.
"It's a massive void to fill but Gareth has the experience now of being at the club for a long time.
"Every year there is pressure on him and he has handled it brilliantly.
"It's a bit different this year because Cristiano has left and there will be more focus on the players who are going to replace the goals.
"But Gareth has shown his qualities in big games and that he can handle anything that is thrown at him."
Fitness issues have held Bale back at times during his time at Santiago Bernabeu, with Giggs of the opinion that those enforced breaks are to blame for a fellow countryman still having something to prove in the eyes of those who have written him off.
He added: "He has started this season on fire. But there's never really a time when he is not playing well.
"I think always the problem with Gareth is that when he has been injured, he's then had to come back and get more game time.
"But when he plays, he always plays well and more or less scores.
"It was probably when I was 28 when I really started realising what was good for me.
"Preparing for games, maybe not training as much or not as intensively and some days training more."