Gareth Bale pivotal to Benitez's Real plan
Rafael Benitez is ready to make Gareth Bale Real Madrid's new 'untouchable' ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo in a move that could also see the Welshman given a chance to play through the middle for the Spanish club, WRITES MATT LAW
Benitez has called a press conference for tomorrow and is expected to confirm that he will succeed Carlo Ancelotti at Real, with Bale the key man in his planned Bernabeu revolution. The Spaniard's announcement coincides with Bale underlining his commitment to the club despite a difficult season for him personally.
"Not the end of the season we had hoped for, we always want to win trophies," Bale wrote yesterday after the club failed to reach the Champions League final and finished second to Barcelona in La Liga.
"Will be working hard in the off season and looking forward to coming back next season stronger with Real Madrid," he added, ending the uncertainty over his Real future.
Florentino Perez, the Real president, is desperate for Bale to be a big success having paid a world record £85.3million to sign him from Tottenham Hotspur two years ago.
Bale's first season in Spain was a success, as he played a crucial part in Real winning the Champions League and Copa del Rey. But the 25-year-old forward has often being played on the right in this campaign and gone long periods without receiving the ball.
That should all change under Benitez, the former Liverpool and Chelsea manager, who has told Perez that he plans to introduce more of a team ethic and bring out the best of Bale by playing him where he is comfortable. Bale could be given a chance in a central role, behind an out-an-out striker, with Ronaldo facing the prospect of having to play out wide.
Benitez (pictured) agrees with Perez that Bale should represent the future of Real and that Ronaldo, 30, will have to fit into the club's new strategy. It remains to be seen whether the world footballer of the year will accept the situation. Sources in Spain even claim that Benitez may be prepared to sell Ronaldo, and not Bale, if he cannot successfully incorporate both players into his Real team.
While Bale is likely to benefit from the arrival of Benitez, Karim Benzema could be allowed to leave Real. The France international's potential availability will alert a number of Premier League clubs.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is a big fan of Benzema, while Manchester United are also likely to be in the market for a striker.
Benitez is backing Real's bid to sign the United goalkeeper David De Gea.
Benitez started his coaching career with Real's B team. He won the La Liga title with Valencia and guided Liverpool to 2005 Champions League success.
At Inter Milan, he lifted the Supercoppa Italiana, before taking interim charge at Chelsea and winning the Europa League. In two years at Napoli the 55-year-old has won the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana.
Ancelotti's agent, Ernesto Bronzetti, said: "Benitez will be the coach of Madrid, it's 99 per cent certain. Ancelotti wants to take a year off, that's his intention." (©Daily Telegraph, London)