New coach ready as Real Madrid begin season without Ronaldo

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Madrid, July 31 (IANS) Real Madrid chief coach Julen Lopetegui has given his first press conference of the pre-season in which he explained how he is preparing for the new campaign without the club’s record goal-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo who has joined Juventus.

Ronaldo joined Juventus over the summer, leaving the new coach without the club’s most emblematic player and placing others such as Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema under the spotlight, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Cristiano is one of the most important players in the history of the club, but he said he wanted to leave,” said Lopetegui, whose side will play Manchester United in the International Champions Cup on Wednesday.

“I am certain Bale is going to do big things this season. He is an extraordinary player and we will see the best of him,” he said.

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Real Madrid are rumoured to be chasing players like Chelsea’s forward Eden Hazard and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, but Lopetegui avoided talk of signings.

“We are delighted with the team and convinced we are going to fight for every title. If nobody comes and nobody leaves, I will be a happy coach,” said Lopetegui.

He said Bale and Benzema had been working “extraordinarily well” and highlighted that with Ronaldo’s departure Real Madrid were more than a one-man club.

“Everyone has a magnificent chance to reinvent the team without an important player and to strengthen the word ‘team’. We need to know what we want, although I also have to highlight the great players we have,” he explained.

–IANS

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