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European football

‘Magnificent’ Bale can take on Ronaldo role, says Real boss

Gareth Bale came off the bench to score twice in Real Madrid's Champions League final win against Liverpool in May

Gareth Bale can fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, according to new Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui.

Ronaldo joined Juventus in July, ending a record-breaking nine-year spell in the Spanish capital.

Real’s only attacking reinforcement so far this summer has been 18-year-old Brazilian Vinicius Junior, but Bale – who had also been linked with an exit from the Bernabeu – has been backed to take on more responsibility this season.

“Gareth is happy to play at Real Madrid,” Lopetegui said at a press conference in Miami, according to the BBC.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the main players in the recent history of Real Madrid. He expressed a desire to leave and we allowed him to.

“Gareth Bale is a magnificent player, with so many qualities. He can help fill the void.”

Bale came off the bench to score twice in Real’s Champions League final win against Liverpool in May.

The Wales forward has lifted European football’s biggest prize four times since joining Real in 2013.

Lopetegui has replaced Zinedine Zidane as the club’s head coach since that third successive Champions League success, and the former Spain boss believes he has a squad good enough to challenge again.

“We are delighted with the squad we have and are convinced that we will fight for all our objectives,” Lopetegui added, according to Marca.

“If a player doesn’t come or go, I will be a happy coach.

“With the squad we have, we will be able to face the demands of Real Madrid.”

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