Zinedine Zidane has called time on his Real Madrid managerial career for the second time in three years. Why has the club legend decided to move on – again?
After Real’s first trophyless season in more than a decade was confirmed by Atletico Madrid’s La Liga title triumph last weekend, Zidane has left the Bernabeu again, having previously quit as manager so that a ‘new project’ could be started in 2018.
On that occasion, he left having just lifted the Champions League trophy, and was back within a year after that project, first led by Julen Lopetegui then Santiago Solari, quickly went off the rails.
So what’s the back story to the same thing happening again?
Unlike in 2018 when he left on a high, Zidane leaves Real without anything to add to the trophy cabinet this time around, in what is their first season without silverware since 2009/10.
As in 2018 though, his rationale is the same and has been hinted at in recent weeks, that the club needs to follow a new project, without him at the helm.
Last time he jumped ship with the club aiming to rebuild its squad in the coming years. That job has still yet to be done, with a number of his first-choice team from his first spell still regulars at the club.
The Spanish press reports Real are serious about making changes to their playing squad this summer, however, including the likes of Martin Odegaard and Dani Ceballos who were both loaned to Arsenal last season, and claim Zidane is, again, not willing to oversee that transition.
Spanish newspaper AS states Real are planning on letting Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane move on this summer, which has only strengthened Zidane’s desire to leave.
“It reminds me to a certain extent of what happened the first time, under Florentino Perez,” said Manu Carreno, journalist with Spanish outlet El Larguero. “In a certain way Zidane returned without a change of cycle having happened and now, that change of cycle, has to be done. Did Zidane want to be the man who told Marcelo, Isco and others they had to move on?”
Ahead of their final game of the season against Villarreal last weekend, at which point they still could have finished as La Liga champions, the manager said Real Madrid “could be a better team without me, for sure”.