Zinedine Zidane shot down suggestions Sergio Ramos is not a team player after an apparent recent penalty dispute and is adamant he is the "best possible captain" for Real Madrid.
Ramos has had an incredible impact at Madrid having joined from Sevilla as a teenager in 2005, and he was made club captain following the departure of Iker Casillas in 2015 – skippering the club to consecutive Champions League titles in the past two seasons.
But it was put to Zidane that his captain could have shown more team spirit by giving Gareth Bale the penalty Ramos ultimately scored to complete a 3-1 win at Leganes last Wednesday.
The reporter highlighted Cristiano Ronaldo's similar gesture against Alaves on Saturday, when the Portugal star allowed Karim Benzema – who has struggled in front of goal lately – to take and score a spot-kick in the 4-0 win.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but to doubt what Ramos means [to the club] is showing a lack of respect," Zidane told reporters at his pre-match news conference before Tuesday's trip to Espanyol.
"We know what Sergio is about, as do his team-mates. He's a much-loved figure here and he's always proven that. He's our captain, the best possible captain Real Madrid could have.
"How can you start a debate because Cristiano gave a penalty to Benzema, but Ramos took a penalty instead of giving it to Bale?
"It seems strange to start a debate because of this. He's much-loved, but not just in the dressing room, all Madrid fans love him. He's a great player."