Zinedine Zidane has made a sensational return to Real Madrid, the club he suddenly departed 10 months ago, as Santiago Solari was sacked from his position as manager.
Solari, who played 131 times for Real in La Liga between 2000 and 2005, was promoted from his role in charge of the Real Madrid B team following the sacking of Julen Lopetegui in October, but Real continued to toil, and over the past two weeks have exited the Copa del Rey at the hands of their great rivals Barcelona, lost another Clasico to effectively end their slim La Liga hopes, before last week’s 4-1 defeat by Ajax in the Champions League.
The departures of Zidane and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer combined to derail a team which had won three Champions League titles in succession. Now the Frenchman will return to oversee a rebuild in the summer – signing a three-and-a-half year contract at the Bernabeu – with the club expected to go on their biggest transfer splurge in years.
News of Zidane’s incredible return was broken on Monday afternoon by Spanish radio, with sources at the club soon confirming the reports, and Real Madrid announced the decision in a statement.
“The Board of Directors of Real Madrid, meeting today, Monday, March 11, 2019, has decided to terminate the contract that linked Santiago Solari with the club as coach of the first team and, at the same time, Real Madrid has offered to continue belonging to the club,” the statement said.
“Real Madrid appreciates the work done by Santiago Solari and the commitment and loyalty he has always shown to this house. The Board of Directors has also agreed on the appointment of Zinedine Zidane as the new coach of Real Madrid with immediate incorporation for the remainder of the season and the next three, until June 30, 2022.
“The president of Real Madrid will appear today with Zinedine Zidane before the media at 8:00 pm in the press room of the Santiago Bernabéu stadium.”
Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Juventus’s Max Allegri were also considered potential targets by the Real Madrid hierarchy, while in a guest column for the i newspaper this week, the former club president Ramon Calderon claimed Mourinho would agree on a contract for three years.
“I understand Mourinho will sign a deal for the remainder of this season and for another three years, with a net salary of £17m per year,” Calderon wrote.
“For the president (Florentino Perez), Mourinho will be the perfect shield against the unhappiness in the media, the fans, and the players. But it will not be easy, and I predict it will be very difficult over the next three months.”