Why Chelsea boss Antonio Conte should be the next Real Madrid manager

Antonio Conte is expected to leave Chelsea this summer.
Antonio Conte is expected to leave Chelsea this summer.

Almost as soon as the final whistle blew on Real Madrid’s home defeat to Villarreal last weekend, Zinedine Zidane scurried down the Santiago Bernabeu tunnel. Jeers and whistles rained down from the stands, white handkerchiefs waving, as is the customary form of protest in the Spanish capital, this felt like the beginning of the end for the Frenchman as Real manager.

Indeed, something has snapped this season. Real Madrid have dropped more points in La Liga this season than they did over the course of the entire 2016/17 campaign, with defeat to Villarreal at the weekend leaving them trailing Barcelona at the top of the table by an astonishing 19 points.

Zidane appears to have lost the dressing room, or at least his capacity to get the best out of his star players. The Madrid press have turned on the 45-year-old, with the Frenchman biting back during a press conference last week. All the while, the results continue to get worse. Real were even held to a home draw by second tier Numancia last week.

Florentino Perez, such is his nature, will have pondered how this ends for Zidane. The long-time Real Madrid president has never been one for tolerating such a disastrous slide in form – if Zidane was anyone else, he’d surely have been sacked by now – and he will have formed some sort of recovery plan in his head over the past few weeks and months.

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A number of names have risen to the top as potential replacements. Perez is known to be a fan of Mauricio Pochettino, for one. Joachim Low is another who has been linked with the job. But there is another candidate who would be better-suited for the position. If Perez wants to replace Zidane, he should look to Chelsea.

Antonio Conte has cut a frustrated figure this season. The Italian came close to leaving Stamford Bridge in the summer, with the former Juventus and Italy boss clashing with the Chelsea board over a lack of transfer activity. Tensions remain and it’s been suggested that Conte could finally walk away from the King’s Road at the end of the season.

That’s when, should Zidane leave before then, Real Madrid should make their move. Conte would be the perfect man to take over at the Bernabeu. The Italian is more than qualified for the job. He would be a far better fit than Pochettino, better than Low, better than anyone else on Perez’s radar.

Real Madrid need someone who can organise a defence. In terms of personnel, the capital club boasts one of the finest backlines in Europe. Marcelo, Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane are all proven at the very top level of the game, but recently their vulnerabilities as a unit have been brutally exposed. Zidane has been unable to arrest their concerning decline.

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Conte is among the best at galvanising a defensive line, as demonstrated by his success at Chelsea over the past 18 months. He’s also adept at handling big egos, something that has proved too much for many Real Madrid managers over the years. Conte, you suspect, would have no trouble justifying his team selection to the dressing room at the Bernabeu.

He would have the character to handle the pressure and scrutiny that comes with being Real Madrid manager. What’s more, Los Merengues are in need of a tactical overhaul, just like Chelsea were before Conte arrived in the summer of 2016. The Italian would be handed one of the most gifted squads in world football should he take over at Real Madrid, and he would surely get the best from it.

For two seasons, Zidane was the right man at the right time for Real Madrid, leading the club to back-to-back Champions League glories. But now time is something he might not be afforded much more of, particularly if Perez can find someone better to replace him. Conte fits the bill.