Gareth Bale has taken a not-so-subtle swipe at former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Welsh superstar was asked about Ronaldo’s shock switch to Juventus when he dropped a sly dig.
“Obviously it’s going to be a little different from having such a big player there,” Bale told the Daily Mail.
“It’s maybe a bit more relaxed, yes.
“I suppose there is more of a team, more working as one unit rather than one player.”
Bale appeared to suggest Ronaldo was somewhat selfish in his time at Real, a thought that isn’t exactly new.
It’s a stark change to the gushing farewell message Bale posted on Twitter when Ronaldo departed.
“It has been a pleasure to play alongside you,” he wrote.
But while the Portugese was there, it would always be Ronaldo’s Real Madrid, not least because Ronaldo delivered consistency while Bale was too often curtailed by injury.
The front page of Madrid daily, AS, on Friday read: “Five years of Bale”, with the numbers: “13 titles, 193 matches, 91 goals, 60 assists, 19 injuries, 393 days out.”
Madrid begin the defence of their Champions League crown at home to Roma this week and the talk now is of a team more balanced, more united even, without Ronaldo.
The wisdom of selling though will not be judged on wins over Getafe, Girona and Leganes but Madrid’s performances in the big games, the ones Ronaldo used to settle, and now Bale has the chance to rise to.
“When someone like Cristiano leaves there is always going to be a spotlight on who is going to replace him,” Wales coach Ryan Giggs said earlier this month.
“But Gareth has shown his qualities in big games and that he can handle anything that is thrown at him.”
The first stage of Bale’s Real Madrid career, with Ronaldo, was a huge success, dampened by injury.
The second stage, without Ronaldo, starts against Roma on Thursday.