Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has described Gareth Bale as "a great player", while acknowledging that the forward has been an important part of the first-team squad.
Despite a largely successful six-year period at the Bernabeu, it appeared inevitable that Real and Bale would part ways over the summer after Zinedine Zidane suggested that the Wales international was not part of his plans.
However, after a transfer to a Chinese club failed to materialise, Bale has featured in the starting lineup, contributing two goals and one assist from the opening three La Liga fixtures.
While Ramos has suggested that there is some truth to the speculation regarding relationships and behaviour away from the pitch, Ramos says that he values Bale's role at the club.
The Spain international told the Daily Mail: "I think Bale's a great player and he's been really important for the club in the years he's been with us.
"You find many things in the press. Some are true, some are not. We live in this world and we have to try to be above all that.
"Regarding what has been said about Gareth, I think time puts everything in place. Regardless of what each player does in his personal life, I think it should be respected and not even talked about. We're free to do what we want with our free time."
Bale still has just under three years remaining on his contract at Los Blancos.