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Real Madrid players meet Julen Lopetegui as training opens

ESPN FC's Stewart Robson and Craig Burley explain just how monumental Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Juventus is for world football.

Real Madrid have returned for preseason training, with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema among the senior players meeting new coach Julen Lopetegui for the first time and decisions set to be made over the futures of many of the club's younger squad players.

While Cristiano Ronaldo was in Turin, Italy, completing his €100 million move to Juventus, 14 senior Madrid players underwent medical and fitness tests, with new signings Vinicius Jr. and Andriy Lunin among those who visited the club's medical partners.

"The Champions League champions are already back in action," a club statement read. "Real Madrid have begun the 2018-19 preseason [with] the relevant medical check-ups. After performing blood and urine tests, the players carried out an anthropometry and underwent several ophthalmological and biomechanical tests."

Bale's first meeting with Lopetegui may help him decide his future, although a meeting between his agent, Jonathan Barnett, and club chiefs is still set to take place in the coming days.

Youngsters on loan elsewhere last season, including Martin Odegaard, Raul De Tomas and Federico Valverde, have also joined up, although it is not yet certain where they will play next year.

One face missing from Valdebebas on Monday was 30-year-old defender Fabio Coentrao, who has 12 months remaining on his Madrid contract but is unlikely to feature under Lopetegui. Others players whose futures remain uncertain include back-up goalkeepers Kiko Casilla and Luca Zidane, and reserves from last season Borja Mayoral and Marcos Llorente.

Toni Kroos and Keylor Navas could join the club for International Champions Cup games against Manchester United on July 31 in Miami, Juventus on Aug. 4 outside Washington and Roma outside New York three days later.

A positive of Spain's round-of-16 exit from Madrid's perspective is that Sergio Ramos, Isco, Marco Asensio, Dani Carvajal, Nacho Fernandez and Lucas Vazquez should all now be available for the UEFA Supercup 'derbi' against Atletico Madrid in Tallinn, Estonia, on Aug. 15.

World Cup finalists Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Raphael Varane may not return to action before the La Liga campaign kicks off the following weekend.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan


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