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Lopetegui Backs ‘Magnificent’ Bale To Replace Ronaldo

New Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui has backed Gareth Bale to fill the gap left by Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu.

Bale looked set to leave the Spanish giants this summer until Zinedine Zidane was replaced by Lopetegui and Ronaldo left Madrid after nine years to join Juventus in a £100 million deal.

That scuppered Manchester United’s hopes of bringing the Welshman back to the Premier League, having enquired frequently about Bale since he moved to Spain from Tottenham in a £85.3m deal in 2013.

Bale is set to face Jose Mourinho’s side in Miami in the early hours of Wednesday morning as United complete their five-match tour of the US.

And Lopetegui has no doubt that the 29-year-old winger can succeed in replacing Ronaldo now his future has been resolved.

‘We first recognise Cristiano as one of the most important players in the recent history of Real Madrid,’ said the Madrid boss, speaking in Miami ahead of the United game.

‘He vocalised his desire to leave and the club gave him all the facilities to do so. We wish him all the luck in the world.

‘When it comes to our players, Bale and everyone else, we are completely convinced we have the players to move forward. Bale is a magnificent player with qualities and we are convinced he and everyone else can fill the void.

‘He’s very, very happy. He’s very happy to play at Real Madrid. He’s happy to be here, and this is a fantastic opportunity for him to show his talent.

‘I’ve talked to him like I’ve talked to everyone. He’s with the team, he’s happy, he’s in line with our goals and it’s a start of a new exciting path for us that I’m looking forward to.’