Zinedine Zidane will always be a Real Madrid legend but the aura of invincibility he once had is beginning to fade.
Less than a year on on from being unstoppable, things at Real Madrid are now totally unstable.
The subsidence of the most decorated club in the history of football is as alarming as it is sad. Some question if the earth beneath the Bernabeu has shifted beyond repair.
Legend doesn’t even quite sum up the importance of Zidane in the Spanish capital.
For a good percentage of Los Blancos, the very idea that they could dispense with one of their greatest, never to return is too much to even consider. They are words not spoken. But they’re not in the majority.
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Even for a man who has lifted back-to-back Champions Leagues as manager, there’s no sheltering from the storm that could soon come his way as Real’s LaLiga title challenge lies in tatters.
Madrid want to do something very, very special. They want to lift the European Cup for a third time in a row. Nobody since they in the 1950s have managed such achievement.
Essentially, it’s now accepted that Madrid have put all their eggs in one Champions League basket.
It’s a dangerous practice. If it goes well, Zidane matches what he did for the club as a player already. He could go on to even greater things.
If it goes wrong? It’s the end of an icon. So if they do pull the trigger, who’s in line to replace him?
Antonio Conte (Chelsea)
There’s just something not right at Chelsea. The whispers of discontent seem to grow louder every week with relations between touchline and board strained. If Conte is in charge at Stamford Bridge next season, it will surprise many.
He has never won a European trophy but reached the Champions League final with his three-time Serie A winners Juventus where he lost 3-1 to Barcelona in 2015.
Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)
This link just won’t go away. That fact not helped by the man himself saying he was “proud” to be linked to the Spanish giants. Fuel added to the fire, but Poch is certainly happy to Spurs. With the way Madrid tend to go through managers, he knows his time will surely one day come.
Pochettino has failed to win any trophies at Tottenham so far but took four points from Los Blancos in the season’s Champions League and could be a surprise choice at the Bernebau.
Unai Emery (Paris Saint-Germain)
It would be hard to see him leaving before PSG exit the Champions League but Emery is now considered in amongst the world elite of managers. His record speaks for itself, but Madrid would have to play the waiting game if they wanted him as their next boss.
Unlike the other candidates, Emery is a multiple winner in Europe, claiming three successive Europa League crowns with Sevilla from 2014 to 2016 and will be aiming to make a huge impression in this year’s Champions League with the mega rich French club.