Gareth Bale has “nothing to prove to anyone”, says Real Madrid team-mate Nacho, with nobody looking for the Welshman to “follow Cristiano Ronaldo’s path”.
With the Blancos having bid farewell to a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, the role of club talisman is up for grabs.
Bale is expected to stake a serious claim to that post, with the 29-year-old having been signed back in 2013 to complement and then eventually succeed Ronaldo.
He did not always find life easy in the sizeable shadow of a Portuguese superstar, sparking regular rounds of speculation regarding his own future, but is now ready to step up for Madrid.
After seeing Bale find the target in a 2-0 season-opening win over Getafe, Nacho told the club’s official website: "It's not a question of him following Ronaldo's path.
"Cristiano left his mark on a whole era here. Bale is a really key player for us and he's won many trophies here and has nothing to prove to anyone.
"Everyone knows they can count on him and I'm sure that he'll continue to perform well. The fans are fully behind Bale and he's very happy at Real Madrid. We've got some fantastic strikers here."
Bale started up top for Madrid on Sunday alongside Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema.
It was, however, to be full-back Dani Carvajal who opened the scoring at Santiago Bernabeu in a welcome win for new Blancos boss Julen Lopetegui.
The Spain international defender told reporters after the game: "We picked up the three points and now we have to work towards next week.
"This is the way forward, limiting the opposition’s chances to score will help us pick up lots of points.
"For the team it was important to start off with a win and every match will be important because the points are as decisive in August as in they are May.
"La Liga started at the Santiago Bernabeu against a difficult opponent, who will cause others problems, and my assessment of the performance is a positive one.
"Last year we swept up in the Super Cups but it was harder for us to get into the winning dynamic in the league, so we don’t want that to happen again this season and we want to get every possible point."