Real Madrid's Julen Lopetegui expects 'tweaks' to 'really strong squad'
Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui said he has an extremely strong squad even after Cristiano Ronaldo's exit but he expects some changes ahead of the upcoming campaign.
Lopetegui, the former Spain manager, oversaw his first training session as Madrid coach on Monday, with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema among 14 senior players returning from their summer holidays just as Ronaldo was being presented as Juventus' newest signing.
"I've got a really strong squad, regardless of what happens, and there will be some tweaks and situations that will be resolved in the coming weeks," Lopetegui told the club website. "We'll have an extremely strong squad that'll be capable of facing up to all of the challenges that lie ahead with real confidence."
Further changes are expected in the coming weeks, with talks taking place over Bale's future and continuing speculation that Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois are being targeted by club president Florentino Perez.
Lopetegui said he is aware of the demands at a club that has won each of the last three Champions League trophies, starting with a requirement to win the UEFA Super Cup against Atletico Madrid in Tallinn, Estonia next month.
"I'm joining the best and most demanding club in the world," Lopetegui said. "I'm certain that I'll be able to meet those demands and we've got to start working towards our first chance to win some silverware, which will come on Aug. 15 in the UEFA Super Cup against Atletico."
Having joined Madrid's youth system at 19, spent two seasons as a backup goalkeeper during the 1990s and coached their Castilla youth team in 2008-09, Lopetegui said he appreciated being able to return to take charge of the first team.
"It's always special to return to Real Madrid because I've always considered it as being home," Lopetegui said. "It's where I grew up and learned my trade and the club has played a big part in who I am today. To return as first-team coach is extremely special and it's a source of responsibility and excitement."