For the second time in three years, Real Madrid are searching for Zinedine Zidane’s managerial replacement.
Los Blancos suffered a trophy-less season in 2020/21, watching on as rivals Atletico Madrid and Barcelona lifted the La Liga and Copa del Rey titles respectively.
Spanish football expert Guillem Balague believes Zidane’s second departure is due to a strained relationship with Florentino Perez, with threats of sackings looming behind the scenes at various points last season.
“It has been a very tiring season for everyone but, on top of that, Zidane feels that, even though he had the backing of the squad, he has not always felt the backing of the board, which basically means Real Madrid president Florentino Perez,” he told BBC Sport.
“They have a very fluid relationship but, just before a Champions League game against Borussia Monchengladbach, the club leaked that being knocked out of the competition could mean Zidane being sacked.
“Instead, Real beat Sevilla, Borussia Monchengladbach and Atletico Madrid, so the threat disappeared. But Zidane didn’t forget.”
Balague added that he is ‘convinced’ Real already have a replacement lined up. So, who could that replacement be? Let’s take a look at the likely candidates.
Who are the favourites to become Real Madrid manager?
Antonio Conte (8/11 with Sky Bet)
Antonio Conte was another shock addition to this summer’s managerial merry-go-round, leaving his post at Inter by mutual consent despite leading the club to their first Serie A title since 2010. It’s thought that Conte was unhappy with a proposed downsizing of his squad, so the Italian coach and Inter’s board came to an agreement to pay off the final year of his contract.
A title winner in both Italy and England in recent years, it’s easy to understand why Conte has quickly become the favourite to take the Real Madrid job. An obvious concern, however, is whether or not his tactical approach will fit the stylistic vision among Los Blancos board members. Even so, there aren’t many more proven candidates out there right now, both employed and in the world of free agents.
Mauricio Pochettino (7/2 with Sky Bet)
Mauricio Pochettino has only been in charge of PSG since January but he’s already being linked with a move away from the club. Although they managed to bring home Coupe de France and Trophee des Champions trophies, PSG were pipped to the post by Lille in Ligue 1. Pochettino is thought to be unhappy with the politics involved with a club like PSG and already, a departure from Paris looks on the cards.
Although the Argentinian tactician is second-favourite to take the vacant Real Madrid job, Los Blancos might well be pipped to the post by Pochettino’s former club, Tottenham Hotspur, who have already made contact with the 49-year-old. That said, Pochettino is far more likely to manage Real Madrid than he is Barcelona given his Espanyol roots, so don’t rule it out.
Who are the outsiders to become Real Madrid manager?
Raul (10/1 with Sky Bet)
In terms of romance, Raul is certainly the most attractive candidate for the Real Madrid job. The former striker scored 323 goals and played over 700 games for Los Blancos between 1994 and 2010 and is currently in charge of Real’s second team, Castilla. Raul has a decent record at that level, too, losing just 14 of his 53 games in charge. But the 43-year-old is incredibly wet behind the ears when it comes to elite level management and that is likely to count against him this time around with Real Madrid needing to make up ground on their rivals both domestically and on the continent.
Real Madrid manager job odds (via Sky Bet)
- Antonio Conte: 8/11
- Mauricio Pochettino: 7/2
- Raul: 10/1
- Carlo Ancelotti: 16/1
- Joachim Low: 16/1
- Gian Piero Gasperini: 20/1
- Guti: 20/1
- Iker Casillas: 20/1
- Julen Lopetegui: 20/1
- Jurgen Klopp: 20/1
- Marcelo Gallardo: 20/1
- Rafa Benitez: 20/1
- Roberto Martinez: 20/1
- Thomas Tuchel: 20/1
Odds correct at the time of writing. 18+ Only. UK only. Terms and Conditions Apply. BeGambleAware.