Real Madrid have astonishingly re-appointed Zinedine Zidane as manager, after relieving Santiago Solari of his duties.
Los Blancos have endured a dreadful run of recent results, with back-to-back El Clásico defeats to Barcelona within the space of three days followed up by one of the biggest surprises in Champions League history – as Ajax triumphed 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu to dump the holders out 5-3 on aggregate.
President Florentino Perez has now wielded the axe on Solari as expected, but in a stunning turn of events, it’s Zidane who has taken over at the club once more on a three and a half-year contract – just under ten months after he resigned and walked away from the club.
A statement on Real Madrid’s official website said: “The Board of Directors of Real Madrid, meeting today, Monday, March 11, 2019, has decided to terminate the contract of Santiago Solari as coach of the first team but, at the same time, Real Madrid has offered him a continued role at the club.
“Real Madrid appreciates the work done by Santiago Solari and the commitment and loyalty he has always shown to this club. The Board of Directors has also agreed the appointment of Zinedine Zidane as the new coach of Real Madrid with immediate start for the remainder of the season and the next three, until June 30, 2022.”
Solari’s dismissal ends his reign just shy of five months, with Real Madrid seemingly in complete turmoil having already dismissed former Spain boss Julen Lopetegui earlier this season.
He won 22 out of his 32 games in charge, but has crucially lost eight times – enduring fractious relationships with star players Isco, Marcelo and Gareth Bale along the way. His inability to strengthen Real’s defensive resolve has also been of particular concern, with his side being cut open at the back all too easily in recent weeks.
The return of Zidane though is a surprise to everybody within the world of football, with Real having been linked with moves for Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino ever since Lopetegui was dismissed towards the end of October.
The Frenchman had quit as manager at the end of May after winning an unprecedented third Champions League crown in a row, citing the need for change in order for trophies to continue flowing in Madrid.
But with the club 12 points behind rivals Barcelona in the La Liga title race, as well as being out of the Champions League and Copa del Rey, a season without success has prompted Perez to approach Zidane, whom he has always maintained a positive relationship with, once more in an attempt to reverse the club’s ailing fortunes.