Real Madrid : “Zidane I have taken the decision to step down as Real Madrid coach.” Just days after winning the Champions League final for a third time as coach. What next for Zizou? What next for Real? Will Ronaldo follow? Will Bale stay?
Zidane : “I have taken the decision to step down as Real Madrid coach.“
The Real Madrid coach has decided to leave just two years and six months as manager at the Spanish club where he became the only coach to win three consecutive Champions League Trophies. Zidane addressed the media on Thursday 31st May and told them that his intention was to take a sabbatical.
Zidane: “I love this club…I had to do this for everyone. What I think is that this team needs to continue winning but I think it needs a change, a different voice, another methodology.“
Real President Florentino Perez : “At this moment, I would like to just say that I am standing by him ….Today was a sad day for me.”
This announcement sent shock waves across the footballing world as he was the last person expected to leave the club after bringing such success to Los Blancos. Zidane has won 9 trophies as coach with the Spanish club which include 3 Champions League's, 1 La Liga, 2 FIFA World Club Champions titles, 2 European Supercups, 1 Spanish Supercup.
Zidane's Reality check: not such a perfect season
Real won this year's Champions League with some fortune but they were just outstanding last season clinching 5 trophies of 6 possible, only missing out of the Spanish Cup “Copa del Rey”. That was their peak.
The team, which Zidane inherited is certainly past the curve and is starting to dwindle slowly down the slope. This may also be part of his decision to leave. He has taken them as far as he may think possible and we don't think he wants to be part of the rebuilding process that Real are about to embark on, especially if Bale or Ronaldo leave. It's like “thanks guys, I love you but I've done my part, my best…good luck.”
Zidane had been speaking about his future several times since the league defeat against Barça in December and again since they lost to Leganes in the Spanish cup in January. He is disappointed that he did not win the Spanish Cup this year or at all, but especially it hurts him to see his team finish third in the 2017-18 Spanish league, 17 points behind Champions Barcelona and also behind Atlético Madrid.
Zidane's drops a bombshell but his departure is not a surprise
President Perez has big decisions ahead and is under immense pressure despite winning the Champions League three times in a row. Zidane has left them so suddenly that Perez will need some time to recover from that one but if Ronaldo goes as well, that spells “chaos” for Los Blancos. Then it's going to be a huge rebuilding process for him without their main man. Who can replace Ronaldo at Real?
Spain's la Liga would suffer further if Bale or Ronaldo were to leave the league and the league's President will not like to see either of them leave the country, but both, that would be a big blow to the prestigious Liga.
Zidane is smart and knows his football and wisely recognizes that the club will have to change both him and maybe some other players to bring new blood and fresh thinking to the club. He may even know if Ronaldo will also leave the club - as he hinted after the final - and that could have also motivated Zizou's decision. But when asked, Zidane denied that he had any problem with Ronaldo.
What next for Zizou? “Les Bleues” the France National Team or PSG?
Zizou says he will be taking a year off to contemplate his future and that is understandable after the emotional roller-coaster he has been through - winning the Champions League again but completely outdone by arch rivals Barça in the Spanish league. La Liga has this year exposed the team's weaknesses and probably those of coach Zidane as they have been far behind Messi and co.
There is also debate about his qualities as a manager or his style of play and whether other big clubs consider him as a great manager even after his fantastic achievements in the Champions League. Just like Guardiola did a few years ago, Zizou will take time to think about his future but we believe he could be at the head of the French national team, maybe as early as September this year.
He has always wanted to coach the national team with whom he won the World Cup in 1998 and the European Cup of Nations in 2000. Though this will depend on the result of current coach Didier Deschamps with France at the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Zidane has been linked with PSG by some, however the Paris club has recently appointed Thomas Tuchel from Dortmund. That does not leave the option closed for Zidane to join the French Champions the following season - after his sabbatical - and Paris could still be a very good challenge for the most respected coach in football at the moment.
What next for Real Madrid and club President Perez?
President Florentino Perez has been left shocked by the latest news in the Spanish capitol and is in a very complicated situation following Zidane's departure. He also has to deal with the difficult case of Ronaldo, who he expects to stay, and Bale who he has no idea whether he will want to stay now that Zidane has left the club. We will explore these cases individually later.
Have no fears, coaches will be lining up to take Zizou's place, however it is very particular to coach the Spanish giants who have a fiery reputation for being trigger-happy when it comes to firing coaches. Zidane has been their fourth coach in 5 years, after he replaced Rafael Benitez in January 2016.
The possible candidates to replace Zidane could be Arsene Wenger, of whom key decision maker Perez is a fan, Allegri of Juventus, and Conte of Chelsea who is almost certain to leave the London club. Perez has been an admirer of Arsene Wenger and has offered the French coach the Real job on several occasions in the past. He is also very keen on Tottenham's coach Mauricio Pochettino but the Argentine has just singed a 5-year extension with the London club.
Perez: “As you can imagine after winning this latest European Cup, this has come as a completely unexpected decision….I would love for him to be by my side forever”
Zidane, 45, has been exceptional for Real Madrid and won the Spanish League and the Champions League as a player before lifting both titles as manager. He leaves behind a wonderful legacy at the club and the fans will be very disappointed to learn of his departure. Zizou won 104 of 149 games in charge of the first-team - after starting his coaching career with Real's B team - a win rate of 69.8% and a haul of 9 trophies to become the second most successful manager in the clubs history.
Zizou needs a new challenge and he's right to say that “they need a new voice”, a new motivation or motivator. Honestly, he will find it hard to motivate them again after winning three consecutive European titles. The problem is that he now shifts the responsibility to the next coach and also directly to the President Perez who finds himself in a turmoil of confusion amid speculation about Ronaldo's and Bale's possible departures.
The Real Madrid fans were expecting to hear from both Ronaldo and Bale who cast doubts about their respective futures at Real but Zidane dropped the bombshell before his player's could even consult their agents and speak with the Club's board.
Is this the beginning of the collapse of the great empire?
Certainly not, they now have to get their scouts to work and a lot of things will change at the club. The fear is that if Ronaldo and Bale both leave, Los Blancos could collapse as they did after they won the ninth Champions League with Zidane scoring in the final. That was in 2002 and it took Real Madrid ten year's to rebuild a competitive team that could challenge for Europe's most prestigious club competition.
They won it again in 2014, twelve year's after Zidane's victory as a player, and with him as assistant coach. Did that not feel like an eternity for Real fans? It's a bit what happened to the great AC Milan and it may take Milan another 2 or 3 years before they can compete against the likes of Juventus, Bayern Munich, Liverpool or Barcelona.
Perez and his team need to act fast but unfortunately for them Zidane's departure may even spark another exit from key players Ronaldo or Bale. Bale loves Real and is willing to stay if he is guaranteed more playing time at the club and Zidane's departure may be the perfect thing for him as he may get his request with the new coach.
But Bale is a wanted man. Apparently he has an offer coming from Manchester United and Bayern Munich are hot on his heals. All that puts the Welshman in the driving seat in terms of the negotiations with Real.
Ronaldo is a completely different case and is very likely to drop the bombshell of himself this week. It could be a double-whammy for Real and then they would really be blown off their feet. We remain convinced that Ronaldo will leave Real Madrid for PSG, sooner or later, though there is also Manchester on his mind - but that is also putting pressure on Bale. Or is Ronaldo simply playing games to get his pay rise?
However in Paris, the French Champions have apparently already prepared an offer for the 33-year-old Portuguese that would put him at the same annual salary as Leo Messi, around euro 41M euros, a massive raise from his current 26m euros at Real.
Perez has been reluctant to raise his salary and this has been a big issue between him and Ronaldo who considers himself to be worth at least as much as Messi after he won 5 trophies for Real in 2017. Ronaldo already threatened to leave last summer but this time it could be for real, Real.
For Real Madrid there is a bright side. They can sell either Ronaldo and/or Bale and build a new team with names such as Neymar, Kane, Mbappé or Lewandowski or even Eden Hazard. All, other than Kane at the moment, are very interested in the Real challenge. Harry Kane is the preferred target of Florentino Perez and by a mile. But euros 200m price-tag is steep, though selling Ronaldo or Bale would allow Perez to buy his special gem.
Neymar wants back to Spain, but Paris say no go. Mbappé wants to join Real as its his childhood dream - and we suppose he will eventually sign for them as the club, particularly Perez, are very keen on the young Frenchman. Lewandowski just wants to leave Bayern but will he be a good fit for Real? Hazard is very interested in the challenge and could be a very good match for Los Blancos.
However, Zizou has been a real character at Real Madrid, an icon and has united the team behind a common goal, like he did as a player, but its time for him to leave. He leaves as a gentleman, as a leader, as Champion and Real should say a “big thank you Senor Zizou”.
For Zidane its been a wonderful spell at the Spanish club and as he said “it may only be see you later”. However, he leaves with his head held high - maybe the only coach in the last 10 years who has been able to do so.
Give your opinion. Will Zidane next coach PSG or French National side or another team?