It may be the start of a new season but Gareth Bale's strained relationship with Real Madrid supporters has shown little sign of improving, with him being jeered during a pre-season friendly on 18 August.
Bale, whose agent was recently forced to deny continued speculation linking his client with a move to Manchester United, was targeted by frustrated supporters on more than one occasion last season, the worse example being when the Wales international was abused by his own fans at the club's training ground car park.
On 18 August Real played their final pre-season game against Galatasaray in the Santiago Bernabeu Cup, with Bale occupying the space behind striker Jese, despite playing a more forward role during most of the pre-season campaign. They begin their La Liga campaign on 23 August against Sporting Gijon.
Real won the friendly 2-1 thanks to goals from Nacho and Marcelo, but AS reports supporters in attendance whistled Bale as he was taken off with five minutes of the match remaining. The Spanish daily said a minority of the crowd could be heard applauding the former Tottenham Hotspur star as he left the pitch, only for that to be quickly drowned out by jeers.
Real manager Rafa Benitez has leapt to the defence of the player, insisting he has no concerns over his role in the first team.
"Logically there will be discussions over Isco, Gareth and James [Rodriguez]," Benitez was quoted as saying post-match by AS. "We are looking to forge an understanding between them. Isco and James play elaborately between the lines, not Gareth – he creates space and makes runs behind the defence. If he had scored tonight you would be saying what a great game he had. If you analyse Bale's movements, you will he gives the team respite."
The Sunday Express recently reported United will make a €122m (£86m, $133.8m) bid for the player this summer as part of their efforts to bring another marquee name to the club this summer.
However, Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett told IBTimes UK in July his client remains 'very happy' at the Bernabeu, insisting Real president Florentino Perez, the man who brought him to Spain for a world record fee in 2013, has not given up on him.