Real Madrid have been accused by Chris Coleman of “overlooking” embattled forward Gareth Bale on the pitch.
Bale has endured a turbulent second season in Madrid, with Real fans targeting the Wales international following the capital club’s below-par season, which cost coach Carlo Ancelotti his job on Monday.
The Welshman’s on-field woes have sparked speculation that he may be open to a return to the Premier League via Manchester United.
Wales coach Coleman, who spent time in Spain with Real Sociedad in 2007-08, leapt to the defence of Bale, claiming the player’s team-mates have contributed to his struggles.
“He was heavily criticised after that first leg [against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League] but I am seeing him in great positions and not receiving the ball from certain players,” Coleman said.
“My assistant Osian [Roberts] called me up and I told him ‘I know what you are going to say, they are not giving him the ball’.
“It wasn’t Carlo Ancelotti’s fault, it is down to the players on the pitch and it looked to me like he was being overlooked.
“You can only do what you do best. With us when he is good positions we make sure we give it to him, in Madrid I did not see that and it was not because he was not working hard.
“I am not saying it was just Ronaldo, but offensively I look at Madrid and wonder why he is not getting the ball.
“That Madrid team towards the end of the season looked disjointed and did not seem to have that togetherness, and Gareth has suffered for that.”