Soccer

Here We Go: Real Madrid brace for Zinedine Zidane’s exit; Massimiliano Allegri, Raul among replacement options

CBS Sports soccer insider Fabrizio Romano is back with the latest news and notes from the world of soccer transfers, coaching moves and more. Last week, we looked at Edinson Cavani’s Manchester United extension, Sergio Aguero’s push to play with Lionel Messi at Barcelona and much more. This week, we examine Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid future with a week remaining in the Spanish league season as the club pushes for back-to-back titles.

Here. We. Go.

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The future of Zinedine Zidane is an extremely touchy issue for Real Madrid because the French coach has a deal that only expires June 2023. 

The plan for club president Florentino Perez has always been to respect Zidane’s choice one way or the other, so he’ll wait for his decision to come at the end of the season. If Zizou chooses to walk away from Real Madrid, the club will be ready with fallback options.

Over the weekend, reports surfaced that Zidane’s decision had already been made. Real Madrid have not confirmed, though in the dressing room, the players are adamant that they have not yet received official answers from Zizou. However, everyone around the club seems to be sure that Zidane will step away from his post. Even the colleagues closest to Perez seem to think he’s gone — so much so that the club has already made contacts with other coaches as early as March so as not to be caught unprepared. 

In short, Zidane’s second Real Madrid farewell is getting closer and closer to coming to fruition.

Zidane will only give an official answer at the end of the season out of respect for the club and his players. Not to mention: He wants to fight until the end for the right to be crowned La Liga champions for the second consecutive season. But after such a topsy-turvy season, the idea of leaving is concrete and for that reason the club is already taking steps to be ready in case the French coach confirms this choice.

What will happen in Zidane’s future? Zidane always prefers to decide calmly and accept a new project only if 100% convinced. A year off must not be excluded in his potential plans. 

He has always wanted an opportunity with the French national team. On that front, there is maximum confidentiality to protect the — so far excellent — work of Didier Deschamps. In Italy, there are many links to Juventus as you’d expect, but it will be crucial to understand if the club will be in the Champions League or not. Moreover, Zidane’s salary — €13 million (nearly $16 million) net per season — is decidedly high, over three times more than what Andrea Pirlo now earns. Zidane has never denied his love for Italy and Juventus, but the club’s plans and current financial situation has not facilitated any possible scenarios of Zidane coaching Juventus.

Who would take Zidane’s place if he were to leave Real Madrid? The club has a shortlist ready with three names. Among them is Massimiliano Allegri, with whom direct contacts have already started for months. The former Juventus and AC Milan coach is waiting to understand what will happen and would accept the opportunity to coach Real Madrid even though he has already been contacted by several Italian clubs. Allegri won’t make any decisions until the dust settles at Real Madrid. It’s his priority to coach Real Madrid given that three years ago he turned down the Spanish club’s proposal because “Florentino Perez had contacted me, but I refused due to a previous agreement in which I promised Juventus that I would stay.” Now, Allegri would accept immediately.

The name of Raul Gonzalez Blanco should not be underestimated, who is the current coach of Castilla, Real Madrid’s reserve team, and a club legend who, however, does not want to rush the timing of his decision. Eintracht Frankfurt are also pushing to have him as manager, so Raul plans to wait and will evaluate his options later. In any case, Raul is one of the most serious candidates for the Real Madrid job. The third name on Real Madrid’s list is not yet confirmed.

Florentino Perez is well aware that the chances of departure for Zidane are high, which is why everything is open. And among the many expiring contracts on which to decide, from Sergio Ramos to Lucas Vazquez, Real Madrid will also have to work on the manager issue soon.



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