Cristiano Ronaldo has asked for pressure to be passed onto other Real Madrid players to allow Gareth Bale to concentrate on getting fit and playing well for his new side.
Former Tottenham winger Bale has had a difficult first two months at Madrid, amid a number of niggling injury issues, and huge expectation from outside given his reported world-record transfer fee.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Juventus at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, the Portugal international asked reporters to give his new teammate time to find his feet at Madrid.
“I think Gareth Bale has done well,” Ronaldo said. “Since he arrived he has had to do a preseason, so it has been difficult for him. But you can see he is very excited about being here.
“He always wants to improve, which is important. People put pressure on him, for how much he costs, which I do not think is good for him. If you want to help him, leave him alone, put pressure on other players. I am sure he will do very well for the team.”
Ronaldo said he was more than happy to help Bale with any questions or issues he might have.
“All good players can play together, and they must, to make the team good,” he said. “I do not feel Bale has copied me with his free kicks -- he has his own style of taking them. If he asks for advice of course I will give it.
“He is a very humble kid, who I would like to help if he asks. I see him as a great player, and want to play with the great players, to win important things.”
Madrid as a whole have not started the season in top form, Ronaldo admits, but he thinks they are ready for the huge games against Juventus and then Barcelona at the Camp Nou in La Liga on Saturday.
“We need to improve in everything -- it is not just one thing,” he said. “The defenders, midfielders and attack is a team together. We are working together to improve in all aspects.
“Obviously we did not begin [the season] as we wanted, but we are working hard and want to win -- as we did against Malaga [last Saturday], and now want to against Juve, and then Barcelona. We are going along step by step, relaxed and motivated. I do not see this as a determining week, but it is very important. If we win then very good. The team is improving bit by bit.”
Asked about a claim by former Juventus director Luciano Moggi that he had almost joined the Turin side as a teenager, Ronaldo joked that it was not just them.
“I have been close to every team,” he said with a smile. “It is a good thing, leaving jokes aside, that many clubs wanted me when I was young, and Juventus were one of those. But the club who gave me the best guarantee that I would grow as a player and a person, for their history and the manager Alex Ferguson, was Manchester United.”
His former United teammate Carlos Tevez would be among Juventus’ danger men in Wednesday game, Ronaldo predicted.
“Juventus are a compact team -- difficult to play against,” he said. “Any of their players can make the difference, so we must focus on all their aspects. I played a lot with Tevez. He was a very important player for Manchester United and for me. We played very well together and won a lot together. We must keep an eye on him tomorrow, as he is a very dangerous player. I hope he does not do so well tomorrow.”