Bale hails Benitez influence as he takes centre stage

Gareth Bale believes a more central attacking role at Real Madrid under Rafael Benitez is allowing him to flourish following a difficult second season at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Wales international notched a brace in the 5-0 demolition of Real Betis in La Liga and also has four assists to his name, providing the perfect foil to Cristiano Ronaldo in Saturday's 6-0 romp at Espanyol.

It is a far cry from the experience Bale endured during the second half of a trophyless campaign last time around, with sections of the Bernabeu faithful booing him as the 26-year-old lost form and cut an isolated figure on the left wing.

Benitez replaced Carlo Ancelotti as Real boss during the close season and has granted Bale license to roam in the attacking third, much to the former Tottenham star's delight.

"It's obviously nice to be playing in my preferred position, where I was playing at Tottenham and where I do for Wales," Bale told BT Sport.

"It's nice to be involved a bit more in the game rather than being stuck out wide for most of it. Last season I got a bit frustrated out on the wing where I wasn't getting the ball that much.

"I feel like when I get on the ball I can create and I can cause damage to the other team."

Bale scored in Copa del Rey and Champions League final triumphs for Real during 2014 and he stated that these achievements helped him keep a level head in the face of the boo-boys' taunts.

"It's obviously not nice to have a few fans booing you in the crowd but it never really bothered me deep down," he explained.

"Sometimes you learn more from when things go bad than when they go good.

"In my first season we won a lot of trophies - the Champions League. You have ups and downs in football and it's about how you bounce back.

"I want to stay here as long as I can and try and enjoy my football."

Bale paid further tribute to the mentoring role Benitez has taken on with him since arriving in the Spanish capital.

"We always speak as much as possible, whether it's in training or after games to see where I can keep improving - if there's one or two extra per cent in there and we can reap the rewards at the end," he added.

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