MADRID, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has defended the club's Welsh international forward Garath Bale.
Following a summer in which he looked to have one foot out of the door, Bale has been one of Madrid's best players in their start to the season, setting up Karim Benzema for their first goal of the season and scoring twice himself in a 2-2 draw at Villarreal before the international break.
However, in recent days Bale admitted to the British press that he wasn't "playing happily" at Madrid after the summer in which coach Zinedine Zidane had tried to push him out.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Ramos defended the striker.
"Bale is a great player and he's been vital for the club in the years that he has been with us," he said.
"You read a lot of things in the press, some are true and others aren't, but it's part of our world and we have to be above all that," he added.
Bale has faced criticism for his poor Spanish and also for allegedly spending most of his spare time on the golf course, but Ramos again spoke up for the forward.
"I think private life should be respected. We are free to do what we want in our spare time," commented Ramos.
The 33-year-old also discussed Madrid's poor pre-season and start to the campaign, which has seen them win one and draw two of their opening matches, with coach Zidane coming under pressure for the first time.
"Zidane is the same person. He has kept his essence as a coach and now he has more experience," said Ramos.