Real Madrid are reluctant to send teenage forward Vinícius Júnior out on loan in the new year due to major concerns over the fitness levels of Gareth Bale, according to reports.
It has been heavily suggested that Vinícius could be offered the chance to link up with one of Real Madrid alumnus Ronaldo in the new year, after O Fenômeno took ownership of Spanish side Real Valladolid earlier this month.
Los Blancos may be interested in sending Vinícius out on loan, with the striker too good for the club's Castilla side but still far away from the first team.
When asked about his young forward Lopetegui said (via AS): "Vinícius is competing very well with Castilla and when the time comes we will decide."
However, journalist Eduardo Inda believes that the club's hierarchy have too many concerns over Bale's fitness levels to allow Vinícius to leave in January.
"Inside the club there are certain nerves, he was not summoned for [Athletic] Bilbao and it was expected to be against Espanyol when he was going to be called," Inda told El Chiringuito de Jugones (as quoted by Tribal Football).
"It also raises the possibility of transferring him in the winter market. I already said that Rayo [Vallecano] and Leganés were candidates and now there are two more: Valladolid of Ronaldo and Levante.
"[But] in the club they are reluctant to give him up because their statistics say that Bale is injured a lot and they could have to call on him."
Vinícius completed a high-profile move to Real Madrid some time ago, but the 18-year-old was forced to wait until this summer before finally leaving Brazilian side Flamengo in a £40m deal due to age restrictions on players moving to Europe.