MADRID – Zinedine Zidane has returned as Real Madrid coach after it lost practically any hope of hoisting a title this season, the Spanish club announced on Monday.
The Frenchman replaced Argentine coach Santiago Solari and will sign a contract keeping him at the Santiago Bernabeu until June 30, 2022, the La Liga club said in a statement.
“The Real Madrid board of directors, which met today, Monday 11 March 2019, has decided to terminate Santiago Solari’s contract as first-team coach, while Real Madrid has offered him the opportunity to remain at the club,” the statement said.
“The board of directors also agreed on the appointment of Zinedine Zidane as head coach of Real Madrid with immediate effect for the remainder of the season and the next three campaigns, until 30 June 2022,” it added.
Madrid officials decided to get Zidane back, 278 days after his departure from the club, after three consecutive defeats across all competitions in the course of a week.
The team was knocked out of the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League, and rival Barcelona increased its lead in La Liga to 12 points.
Zidane will rejoin the club after a sabbatical leave since the end of last season when he led the team to a record of three consecutive UEFA Champions League titles, increasing its total tally to 13.
Having been one of Florentino Perez’s “Galacticos” players, he can handle a star-studded squad, as he has already proven during his first two-year-and-a-half term as Madrid coach in which won nine out of 13 possible titles.
The mere fact of being a former Madrid coach gave him an edge over other potential outsider candidates, such as Italy’s Antonio Conte.
Although the list of potential candidates included former Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, his troubled past, which the team got a taste of in his third and final year in charge, seems to have ruled him out.
The Spanish team has already got enough hot topics to deal with, including the discontent of midfielder Isco Alarcon, who has seemingly fallen out of favor with Solari, the poor performance of Brazil left-back Marcelo and above all finding a way to replace Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Juventus in a surprise move during the summer transfer window.