Rafa Benitez 'to build Real Madrid around Gareth Bale'
Gareth Bale could be set for a starring role for Real Madrid as coach Rafa Benitez uses him as a number 10 this season.
The Welshman played behind striker Jese in Saturday's friendly against Roma in a move Benitez confirmed "was not an experiment".
Despite failing to ignite Real's attack in the 0-0 draw with Roma - and apparently upsetting Cristiano Ronaldo by not passing to him - Bale appears set for a central role.
Ronaldo expressed frustration with Bale last season and reports in Spain suggested the Portuguese was unimpressed by his team-mate on Saturday - yet Benitez is a big fan of Bale.
"Playing him in behind the striker is an option and I like it," said Benitez. "It's not an experiment and I think that it's an interesting possibility for other games if he likes it there."
The move could lead to a greater balance in a Real Madrid team that has been worryingly reliant on the goals of Ronaldo.
Despite ostensibly lining up on the left wing, Ronaldo has scored 280 goals in his last five seasons and notched a personal best tally of 48 Liga goals last season.
Benitez has been careful not to single Ronaldo out as a star player, saying on Friday: "Ronaldo, Bale, all of them — they are so good. For me it's not a problem. James (Rodriguez), Isco, (Karim) Benzema, Ronaldo or Bale, we have an option with all of them."
How Real Madrid could line up this season. (current players only):