For years he has been one of the most sought-after jobs in world football: managing Real Madrid, the club with the most European titles in history.
With Zinedine Zidane officially leaving Los Blancos, the search for his replacement has begun. But unlike past seasons, this time it’s a bit complicated.
Real Madrid: Club status
Real Madrid are an aging team and they are not necessarily in a position to invest heavily given their precarious financial situation made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The club’s gross debt is reportedly $ 1 billion and they haven’t made any significant player acquisitions over the past season. Apart from Marco Asensio and Ferland Mendy, their most influential players are all (or will be) in their 30s, and there is talk of an imminent outgoing transfer of French center-back Raphael Varane.
It’s no wonder, then, that club president Florentino Perez drove the Super League bus a few weeks ago and has yet to give in despite the threatening disciplinary action by UEFA against the three clubs that hold him down. still claiming (Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus).
The individual appointed to take the reins of the team will be faced with a unique situation, which will likely reduce the scope.
Best fit: Raul Gonzalez
This is Mr. Real Madrid. If there’s anyone who can put the club ahead of personal ambition and help navigate the ship through the turbulent months and years to come, it’s Raul, stable, reliable and stoic. His position at the club should give him a longer leash with the fans and his legend will only grow if he manages to outdo the team entrusted to him.
He may also be more inclined to promote young academy players instead of star signings that won’t come. The 43-year-old has been a coach in Real Madrid’s youth system “La Fabrica” (The Factory) for the past three seasons, and by all accounts he has shown he has the courage to take the leap. The reports paint the portrait of a serious and detail-oriented manager who controls the locker rooms and demands commitment, professionalism and respect for the institution from his young players.
Those who have followed his teams describe a style of play that would also match Zidane’s well: tactical flexibility and the empowerment of players to show personality and solve problems on the pitch.
Save option: Xabi Alonso
Another Real Madrid fan favorite who left a coaching position with Real Madrid youth teams to cut teeth in Spain’s lower divisions with a different organization: Real Sociedad B (aka Sanse). He led the team to promotion to Spain’s second division for the first time in 59 years. (For comparison, Raul’s Real Madrid Castilla side also competed in the third tier league, but failed in the promotion playoffs.)
Alonso, 39, is said to have strong ideas about the game – during his career he has imbibed the ideas of Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Rafa Benitez and Carlos Ancelotti – and an ability to communicate them effectively to his players. .
But Alonso has time and he doesn’t seem in a rush for a big job: “I want to go at my own pace and go my own way. [as a coach]”he told Movistar in a recently released video.” I’m at Sanse, and that’s where I want to be. “Given the current state of Real Madrid, it’s probably wise that Alonso be patient.
Moreover, it also wouldn’t seem feasible for Real Madrid to bypass Raul for Alonso, who might prove to be a better option after Raul if the latter shows he isn’t cut out for the job.
Unlikely: Mauricio Pochettino
The Real Madrid president reportedly tried to drive the Argentine away from Tottenham Hotspur in 2018, but the English club did not play ball. And Paris Saint-Germain probably won’t do it this time around.
In the past, Pochettino has said managing Real Madrid is a dream of his, but he is under contract with PSG for one more season until June 2022. Despite reports of a strained relationship with the PSG sporting director Leonardo, it wouldn’t be a good idea to look for the Parisian club with deep pockets to see a top manager leave them just six months after hiring him.
Pochettino could be another save option for Raul in 2022 if things don’t work out.
Very unlikely: Antonio Conte
Conte has just left Inter Milan after winning a Serie A title due to the club’s impending cost-cutting measures. Why would he take a job at another club facing similar financial uncertainty?
He has been linked with Real Madrid in the past and the rumors will not go away while he is a free agent. Conte’s uncompromising style would suit a tough job perfectly, but given Real Madrid’s current situation, he’s unlikely to trade one struggling club for another.
And based on the latest rumors, Tottenham Hotspur and the Premier League could call at any time.