Ancelotti believes Gareth Bale will be Real Madrid’s most important player this year, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo [Confidencial]

Gareth Bale has returned to Real Madrid pre-season in beast mode, having clearly hit the weights hard over the summer.

And the Welshman’s increased strength and power has been noticed by Carlo Ancelotti during their US tour, so much so that he believes Bale will be Los Blancos most important and influential player this coming season – ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.

That’s according to El Confidencial, who claim to be privy to Ancelotti’s latest musings about his players.

Bale barely had a pre-season last year, what with his drawn-out transfer saga, and arrived in Madrid weak and way out of shape, unable to complete 90 minutes for his first few weeks.

He was effectively playing catch up all year, but this season he’ll actually have an advantage over Ronaldo (though they’re of course teammates, there’s stiff internal competition), who’s taken an extended post-World Cup break.

Of course, if this is really Ancelotti’s opinion, none of this will actually mean anything, unless he goes and shows it – by playing Bale in his favoured left wing position, to the detriment of Ronaldo.