Dani Ceballos states he would have left Real Madrid, had Zinedine Zidane stayed on as head coach.
The 22-year-old was signed to Real Madrid from Real Betis for a reported fee of €18 million, but saw only four starts under the French manager.
However, with Lopetegui at the helm, Ceballos has played three of four competitive Madrid games and has been called up to the Spain squad for the first time.
“It’s something for him to explain, why I didn’t get opportunities,” he told Radio Marca when asked about Zidane. “I worked, I tried to make [his decisions] difficult for him, but a moment comes when you see it’s impossible.
“I scored two goals in Vitoria and the next game I played one minute against Dortmund. When you spend weeks not feeling important, it’s more difficult.
“There was a moment in which I gave the season up. We were 15 points [off the top] in La Liga and only had the Champions League left, but I didn’t enter into the dynamic.
“I hired a personal trainer in January, because I wasn’t playing Wednesday and Sunday and I lost that intensity. I was looking to be fit for pre-season.
“If Zidane had continued, I would obviously have looked for an exit, but everything was different with Julen’s arrival.”
“You can never give up because my objective is to succeed at Real Madrid, as I said. Now, I try to give back to the fans what they didn’t see from me,” he said.
“It’s not a grudge. I came having had a great Euro Under-21 tournament, being the best player, to being ostracised right from the start…
“Last year was not a good year for me but, as a footballer, he’s given me maturity. He was always clear with me and I don’t hold a grudge.
“I followed him from when I was little and he was always a star wherever he played, so maybe he didn’t know how it feels for a player to be on the bench.
“It will also help in the future, so I don’t make the mistakes he made here.”