Zinedine Zidane is no stranger to making surprise exits from Real Madrid, either as a player or as the club’s manager. In his playing days, the great Frenchman shocked many with his decision to retire in 2006. More recently, Zidane left Los Blancos in 2018 having guided the club to a third consecutive Champions League crown, only to return ten months later following the failed appointment of Julen Lopetegui.
However, the feeling among audiences in Spain is that Zidane may well decide to quit as Real’s manager for a second time this summer. If this does prove to be the case, it would represent a more predictable departure than the previous ones. Here, we look at why the 48-year-old may decide to hand the reigns to someone else at the end of the season.
Why Zinedine Zidane Could Look to Leave Real Madrid
A Squad Overhaul is Needed
Regular observers of Zidane’s current Real Madrid side argue that this is a team which has reached the end of its cycle. Whether it’s a new manager that is needed, despite the unprecedented success Zidane has enjoyed at the helm, to refresh and renew this cycle is a subject of uncertainly.
For instance, the Frenchman’s feat of guiding the club to three straight Champions League triumphs had never been accomplished before in the history of the competition.
The two league titles Zidane has also won as Real’s manager means his ability and credentials as an elite manager can never be questioned. However, it has been argued that the secret to the great man’s success is down to his knack of coaxing the very best out of the star players at his disposal, using his tactical nous to harness their talents in order to keep the team on top.
The problem Zidane faces now is that a number of those star players are approaching the end of their careers and cannot keep elevating themselves and those around them for much longer. Veteran warhorse Sergio Ramos is 35. So too is midfield playmaker Luka Modric. His partner in crime, Toni Kroos, is also in his thirties. Star striker Karim Benzema, whose goals – often late in games – have saved the team time and again this season, is 33.
It therefore came as no surprise that Thomas Tuchel’s youthfully vibrant Chelsea team made this ageing Real Madrid one look laboured and ordinary by the end of a 180-minute semi-final tie in this season’s Champions League.
As such, there is an urgent need for a new nucleus of young stars to be shaped and formed in the Spanish capital. Despite his unprecedented success and glittering trophy haul as a manager, Zidane’s ability when it comes to encouraging and improving young players is somewhat untried and untested, and may even constitute a clash of styles with how he has approached his job until this point. Having already won the lot, Zidane may decide not to enter uncharted territory and could walk away instead.
Silverware Could Come as a Fitting Send-Off
Collecting trophy after trophy has been the aim of the game for Zinedine Zidane as a manager. He has won eleven of them in less than six seasons as Real Madrid boss.
Despite their difficulties on the pitch this season, he may yet add a twelfth before the curtain comes down on the 2020/21 campaign. With two games left to go in La Liga, Real sit two points behind an unconvincing Atletico Madrid, and still harbour hopes of overhauling their city rivals before they run out of matches in a stuttering title race.
Adding a hat-trick of league crowns to his Champions League treble would be the perfect way for Zidane to bow out as the club’s manager, if he decides to. What is certain is that he has earned the right to decide when that time comes.
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