The unresolved futures of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo will have contributed to the Zinedine Zidane’s decision to leave Real Madrid, says Guillem Balague.
Zidane announced his surprise departure in a press conference on Thursday, just days after becoming the first coach to win three consecutive Champions League titles.
And Sky Sports’ Spanish expert Balague believes that while there are several factors that will have swayed Zidane’s decision, Bale and Ronaldo’s comments in the aftermath of Real’s Champions League final victory over Liverpool in Kiev will have been taken into account.
“Cristiano Ronaldo instead of celebrating with his team mates decided to talk about his future, and there were doubts about the future of Gareth Bale,” Balague said. “This will have a big influence on Bale, the disappearance of Zidane.
“All in all, he felt that the distance between players and manager, the authority of the manager, had been hurt. That is why he had to leave.
“It has caught everyone by surprise. Zidane told the president yesterday and told the players in a message today. He has spoken to Sergio Ramos, and intends to talk to the other captains in the next few hours. He felt he had to speak to one of the other leaders.
“I don’t think he will retire as a coach – he has aspirations to coach the France national team at some point.
“He insists on the idea of how demanding it is to be the manager of Real Madrid and he once it is not working in the way he wants, he feels it is time to move.
“He senses that the players need something new, they need a new voice. To actually manage the situations that are coming up now, situations like Ronaldo and Bale, these players have been complaining, Zidane probably feels that if the players do not want to talk to me, they are not listening to me, I am not the one to take all that on board and change the dynamics. He feels it is up to someone else to come in and deal with it.
“Not that it is impossible to deal with, but he feels that the dynamic has changed to a point where, it goes back to Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, where he said ‘we will hurt each other if we continue’, and Zidane feels the same. He has taken the team to nine out of 13 titles, what else is there to win?”
The search is already underway for Zidane’s successor, with a host of big names in the frame. Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is currently the favour in the , while Mauricio Pochettino is another front runner.
“We know that Florentino Perez has tried to get Arsene Wenger, in the words of Wenger, two or three times,” Balague added. “Wenger has said no before, but now he is out of a job.
“The interest in Pochettino from Real Madrid is obvious for all to see. He is the type of manager they would like to have at Real Madrid at some point.
“He has a new contract at Spurs, he is linked to everything that is happening for Spurs around the decisions of the players, it does not seem obvious for him to leave right now.
“There has been names linked for some time. Thomas Tuchel is now at PSG, Max Allegri is negotiating a new contract but hasn’t signed, Antonio Conte has been put on the list, even though he doesn’t real suit Real in the way he plays.
“Look who is around the club. Santi Solari, a former player, who is coaching in the lower rankings, Guti is also coaching. It may be a little too soon for them. There is no indication that Florentino Perez will go with one of these.