Alvaro Arbeloa has made it clear that Sergio Ramos remains a "very important" player for Real Madrid following his absence in Tuesday's Champions League clash with Manchester City.
The Spain stopper was somewhat surprisingly benched in favor of Raphael Varane for Los Blancos' 3-2 win over the English champions, but the former Liverpool man has jumped to the support of his teammate.
"Sergio Ramos is our vice-captain, and one of the best center backs in the world," Arbeloa was quoted as saying on the official Madrid website.
He added, "The coach makes the decisions and we have to respect them. Other players like [Mesut] Ozil and [Karim] Benzema did not start either.
"However, they are all still very important for Real Madrid."
Ramos, 26, has made six official appearances for the Santiago Bernabeu side this term.
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