- Julen Lopetegui refutes claims Real Madrid are weaker without Ronaldo
- Lionel Messi made the remark about the strength of their La Liga rivals
- Real have started the season with perfect record with three matches played
Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui has hit back at Lionel Messi’s suggestion that his side are now weaker without Cristiano Ronaldo.
Although Real Madrid failed to replace Ronaldo with another superstar after his £100million move to Juventus this summer but have won their opening three La Liga matches.
After Ronaldo's departure from the Spanish capital, he has ended his direct rivalry with Messi.
And the Barcelona hitman has suggested that Los Blancos will be as good as when Ronaldo was with Real
“Real Madrid are one of the best teams in the world and they have a great squad [but] it's evident that the absence of Ronaldo makes them less good and makes Juventus [one of the] clear favourites to win the Champions League.
"It surprised me [when he left].
“I didn't imagine him leaving Madrid or joining Juventus.
“There were a lot of teams that wanted him.
“It surprised me, but he has gone to a very good team."
However the former Spanish national team coach has issues with Messi’s comments.
He said: “I wouldn't doubt these Real Madrid players for a second.
"I didn't speak to [Ronaldo].
“It's a situation that when I arrived, he had shown a desire to leave and the club facilitated it.
“I respected it and the strategy was taken."
The 51-year-old manager has also admitted he has no regrets about choosing Real which saw him lose his role as Spain manager.
He added: “I don't regret the decision I made, I'd go back and make it again.
“It doesn't hurt to hear talk about the Spain national team. I am absolutely happy to train Real Madrid, I have a wonderful challenge.
"I wish Spain the best, to Luis Enrique and all of Spanish football. I am a follower of the Spain team.
“I think I did things correct, with the greatest honesty always under the premise that I would say yes to Real Madrid."
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had earlier reported that Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has revealed that he was surprised at Cristiano Ronaldo's departure from Real Madrid earlier this summer.
Messi believes Ronaldo played a crucial role in Los Blancos’ three consecutive Champions League titles, but opted for a new adventure in Italy.
And the Barcelona superstar believes their rivals are severely weakened by Ronaldo’s departure.
Football Transfers That Shocked The World | Naij.com TV