Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo looked slightly unimpressed when Rafael Benitez walked up to him and patted him on the chest during training on Thursday.
Ronaldo raised his eyebrows and failed to give eye contact with the former Liverpool manager who replaced Carlo Ancelotti at the Bernabeu this summer. (To watch the footage, scroll down this page).
It’s been a tough couple of days on the training pitch for Ronaldo, who was embarrassed by young teammate Jese during the same session. A day earlier he was left in a heap following a committed challenge from Pepe.
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However, in more positive training-ground news for Ronaldo fans, the Portugal international showed he’s still a dab hand from the penalty spot, netting a last-minute spot-kick in an 11-a-side training match on Wednesday.
In the same training session, Benitez provided a potential clue about how he plans to set up his side next season by deploying Gareth Bale upfront and keeping Ronaldo in his favoured position on the left wing.
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Ronaldo wants to continue on the left
Real Madrid’s stars are still getting to grips with Benitez’s training methods, with the Spanish coach keen to ensure the group work harder on the defensive aspect of their games.
Ronaldo could have avoided more defensive work by agreeing to play as the team’s centre-forward next season.
However, the former Manchester United star wanted to continue on the left - the position he feels provides him with the necessary space to work his magic.
There’s every chance, providing it proves a success in Real Madrid’s pre-season matches, that Bale will lead the line for Los Blancos next season in front of Karim Benzema.
Benitez says Ronaldo is 'fundamental'
Benitez has accepted Ronaldo’s decision, however, and told reporters that the prolific attacking winger will remain the team’s key player under his management.
"He's a fundamental player for us," Benitez was quoted as saying by ESPN. "By meeting him and starting to exchange our thoughts with each other, we will be able to progress in terms of the dynamic of the group and get to know him better, so as to get the best out of him and so that the team can make the most of everything he has to offer."
Ronaldo made no secret of the fact he wanted Ancelotti to stay at Real Madrid and may have felt, like a lot of fans, that Florentino Perez’s decision to replace the Italian with Benitez was a little bizarre.
That Ronaldo enjoyed such a close relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson, who rarely saw eye-to-eye with Benitez, also put him in a slightly awkward position.
It will be interesting to see how the relationship between Ronaldo and Benitez develops over the coming months.
Will Cristiano Ronaldo be as effective under Rafael Benitez next season? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!
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