Real Madrid can move on from the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo despite their struggles since the exit of the five-time world footballer of the year, according to former striker Julio Baptista.
Ronaldo joined Juventus for an initial €100 million (£88m/$117m) in the summer after nine glittering seasons in the Spanish capital.
But the 13-time European champions have struggled since Ronaldo’s exit, losing five of their first 13 games this season to leave themselves off the pace in La Liga.
Manager Julen Lopetegui is already under severe pressure ahead of taking his Real side to defending champions Barcelona – a fixture Ronaldo and an injured Lionel Messi will be absent from for the first time since 2007 .
Baptista was the match winner on that occasion in a 1-0 win at Camp Nou and the Brazilian says there is life after Ronaldo for Real.
“Real Madrid miss Cristiano’s goals, logically, but nobody has ever been irreplaceable at Real Madrid, and no one will,” he said ahead of El Clasico.
“Cristiano is the best, or one of the best players in history. But he left.
“And some others will come and then leave. That’s the story. After the Galacticos era, Real won four Champions titles.”
Though Barcelona are without Messi, who is out for three weeks after fracturing his arm against Sevilla last weekend, the hosts are big favourites to claim their third win on the spin.
Defeat could be the beginning of the end for Lopetegui, just four months on from his appointment in the summer.
And Baptista does not expect Real to delay Lopetegui’s sacking any further if results continue to go against them, and believes ex-midfielder Guti – currently coaching at Besiktas – could return to Santiago Bernabeu.
“Lopetegui? Real Madrid don’t wait for anybody,” he added.
“It’s such a big club that needs results and quickly. Remember the Ancelotti case?
“Guti could be ready to be the Real Madrid coach.”