Florentino Perez has started the search for what would be the third Real Madrid manager in the space of 12 months, according to Mundo Deportivo.
Zinedine Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez amidst much fanfare in January but the gloss has since worn off on his Bernabeu reign. A 1-0 home defeat to Atletico Madrid followed a disappointing draw against Malaga in what effectively represented the end of their La Liga title challenge.
They now sit 12 points behind leaders Barcelona and must still face the Catalans at Camp Nou before the end of the season. There is now concern from the Bernabeu boardroom that they will have to dismiss Zidane after just a few months in charge.
Realistically, Zidane cannot stay in the dugout unless Real Madrid mount a significant challenge for the Champions League. They are likely to qualify for the quarter-finals after beating AS Roma 2-0 in the first leg of their round of 16 match, but the minimum of a final appearance will be needed to spare the French legend.
On current form, that looks unlikely so Perez, who himself has faced calls from fans to step down from his position as president, has started looking at potential replacements.
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The Spanish newspaper has named Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino as Perez's current top choice. The Argentinian has proved to be a prestigious managerial prospect during successful spells at Southampton and now Spurs.
Out of nowhere, he has dragged the perennial underachievers to their first genuine Premier League title challenge. Indeed, a win against West Ham on Wednesday night will see them go top with just 10 games left.
Pochettino's performances have impressed across Europe and it is likely the ambitious young coach would jump at the chance to join one of the continent's biggest clubs.
Sevilla manager Unay Emery, Marseille's Michel Gonzalez and Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores make up the four-man shortlist, but there will be plenty of reluctance in the Bernabeu boardroom to pull the trigger on a club legend like Zidane.
Real Madrid players have been quick to praise the Frenchman's impact on the club's fortunes and there is a dream within the club that he eventually follows the same path as Barcelona's Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard proved an incredible success after replacing Frank Rijkaard in 2008 following a short spell in charge of the B team.
However, Guardiola inherited a team packed with talent like Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. While Real Madrid have their own array of stars, turning the group of talented individuals into a coherent machine is proving to be an impossible feat.
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