Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images
Zinedine Zidane is leaving as manager of Real Madrid, according to world football insider Fabrizio Romano.
Zidane returned for his second spell at Madrid in March 2019.
This season, the club narrowly lost out on a domestic title, finishing two points behind La Liga winner Atletico Madrid. Los Blancos also reached the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League, where they lost to Chelsea.
Zidane guided Madrid to the La Liga title in 2017 and three straight Champions League trophies (2016-18) during his first spell. He also inspired an impressive turnaround in 2019-20 as the club won 10 straight matches to beat out Barcelona for the league title.
Still, ESPN FC’s Alex Kirkland and Rodrigo Faez reported in December the 48-year-old was facing pressure when Madrid was in jeopardy of not qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages. Real ultimately exited the Champions League in the semifinals, failing to repeat as titleholders.
Patience is something Real Madrid managers typically don’t get to enjoy.
In perhaps the most famous example, Vicente del Bosque was out of a job almost immediately after the club’s La Liga triumph in 2003.
Because of what he has achieved both as a player and manager, Zidane will likely have plenty of clubs inquiring about his availability.
When it comes to his now-former employer, the Frenchman may have gotten out at just the right time.
Eden Hazard has struggled to stay fit, while Karim Benzema (33), Marcelo (33), Sergio Ramos (35) and Luka Modric (35) are all in their mid-30s. Ramos, the captain, might be out altogether with his contract expiring.
This is an aging squad in need of a refresh, and many of the young stars who were supposed to be the bridge to the next generation haven’t fulfilled expectations. Turning over the first-team roster will be difficult for Real Madrid, since the ill-fated Super League was supposed to be the mechanism to fund marquee transfers.
Whoever succeeds Zidane is likely coming aboard during a period of transition, which isn’t ideal given what club president Florentino Perez typically considers the bar for success.