Zinedine Zidane: Which manager will replace Real Madrid's head coach?


The call Real Madrid president Florentino Perez made to Zinedine Zidane in March 2019 was presumably an awkward one.

Just nine months previously, the Frenchman had left the Santiago Bernabeu as a three-times Champions League winner having been denied the freedom to reshape his team. Perez ultimately made a U-turn.

Perez and Zidane haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. Even in times of great success, the pair have been distant.

Recently, with Real Madrid struggling for consistency, even more so. It was therefore unsurprising when, over the weekend, reports emerged that Zidane has told Perez and his players of his desire to leave at the end of the season.

While Perez might relish the opportunity to hire a new manager – he’s been looking for an excuse all season – the timing of Zidane’s decision wouldn’t be ideal for Real Madrid. There is no obvious candidate waiting to take over at the Santiago Bernabeu. There’s no guarantee Los Blancos will be able to find anyone better than Zidane.

For years, Mauricio Pochettino was Perez’s top pick as Real Madrid’s next manager. However, the Argentine was appointed at Paris Saint-Germain as recently as January. Pochettino’s job security might be shaken by the failure to win the Ligue 1 title, as now looks likely, but it’s improbable he will be sacked after just four months in the French capital.


Julian Nagelsmann is another manager who has been publicly courted by Perez in the past. The German coach has spoken about turning down Real Madrid’s offer to succeed Zidane the first time he left back in 2018 and might have been top of the club’s shortlist only a few weeks ago. However, Nagelsmann has already agreed to take over at Bayern Munich this summer.

Max Allegri has been linked with the job. As a five-time Serie A winner and Champions League finalist, he is the highest profile out-of-work manager in the game right now. He would tick a lot of boxes for Real Madrid, but the Italian’s pragmatic style might not enthuse the Santiago Bernabeu faithful.


Joachim Low will be out of work after Euro 2020, but despite being a World Cup winner he has no experience in club football. Antonio Conte would be a blockbuster appointment, but it’s unclear whether he would be willing to leave Inter having just won the Serie A title at San Siro. What’s more, Conte is renowned for aggravating his employers. Perez might not sign up for that.

Raul Gonzalez is seemingly the fans’ favourite for the job, but the former striker has only ever coached in the Spanish lower leagues as manager of Real Madrid’s B team (Castilla). Zidane’s pathway was to the top job at the Santiago Bernabeu was similar, but nonetheless, Raul’s appointment this summer would represent an almighty gamble.


Real Madrid find themselves at a crucial juncture in their recent history. Their squad is an ageing one. Cristiano Ronaldo is gone, but Karim Benzema, Casemiro, Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos are all still key figures. Real Madrid are in desperate need of rejuvenation, but are laden with close to €1 billion of debt. ‘Galactico’ signings are off limits for the time being.

Zidane has handled the pressure of being Real Madrid manager better than anyone in decades. Whoever replaces him will need to be a politician and a spiritual leader as well as an exceptional coach.

There aren’t many, if any, candidates out there who would fulfil this criteria. Perez might not be sorry to see Zidane go, but the process of finding a replacement could exasperate him further.


10 best candidates to replace Zidane at Real Madrid

Max Allegri

Joachim Low

Raul Gonzalez

Carlo Ancelotti

Antonio Conte

Erik ten Hag

Maurizio Sarri

Brendan Rodgers

Xabi Alonso


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