Gareth Bale is going to get “much better” for Real Madrid, says Julen Lopetegui, with more focus being placed on the Welshman in the wake of Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.
Having operated in the shadow of a five-time Ballon d’Or winner for five seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Wales international hinted at the end of the 2017-18 campaign that he was ready to move on.
It was, however, to be Ronaldo who left the Spanish capital, with a €112 million (£100m/$127m) deal taking him to Serie A giants Juventus.
More is now expected of Bale as he seeks to fill a sizeable attacking void in Madrid, with Lopetegui convinced that the 29-year-old is up to the task.
He told reporters after seeing Bale draw a blank in a 4-2 UEFA Super Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid: “Gareth Bale played very well, but I’m expecting he will get much better.
“It is normal in this moment of the season that the players are not in their peak physical shape so we know there is a lot more to come from Gareth and all the others.
“We are very happy with his performance and we hope he will continue to improve to make a decisive impact in the next matches.”
Bale has been among the goals in pre-season for Real, suggesting that he is ready to play a prominent role for the Champions League holders.
He also provided an assist for Karim Benzema’s opener against Atletico in the Super Cup, with his creativity set to be as important as his end product.
Questions have, however, been asked of his form and fitness for a number of years and there is still plenty for the former Tottenham star to prove now that he no longer has Ronaldo to contend with.