The Frenchman is linked with taking charge of the Qatar national team.
When Gareth Bale took aim and swung his left boot at the ball to send it sailing through the fumbling arms of Liverpool’s Loris Karius, he was doing so much more than scoring a goal, he was creating history for Real Madrid and for one man in particular, Zinedine Zidane. However, a mere four days after lifting the prestigious trophy for the third time in a row, Zidane announced his departure from the club that he has called home for so many years.
To truly understand why the Frenchman took the decision that he did, let us cast our minds back to earlier this year, when on the 18th February Zidane stated, “Being a coach is extremely tiring – more so at a club like Real Madrid. When I feel there is nothing more to give, I’ll walk away.” So, has the time really come so soon, when the club legend has no more to give? There might be more to the story than meets the eye.
In his departing press conference, Zidane stated that in order for a club to keep winning, it has to undergo a change in either players or management every few years and that if he had stayed, it would have been difficult for him to keep winning. But his departure comes at a very interesting time for Real Madrid.
Zidane has left Real Madrid at a very interesting time
The average age of the squad is 29 and most of the players are tied down to long-term contracts, which could prove to be a very costly mistake on the part of Florentino Perez and the board at Madrid. The long contracts and the age of his star players make them a very hard sell in a transfer market brimming with young, exciting talents. Thus, if Zidane had stayed, he would have been left with an ageing squad, that would likely have struggled to make it through another season.
While Madrid’s Champions League run was admirable and will most likely ensure their star man, Cristiano Ronaldo a sixth Ballon d’Or, their form in the league left much to be desired. The absence of youth and energy in the side played its role as poor results scattered throughout the course of the campaign meant that Los Blancos hardly put up a title challenge.
If the current squad is to be revamped, Madrid will have to shell out considerable amounts of money considering the inflation in the transfer market. However, in order to do so, while abiding by Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, they will also have to sell some of their stars, which is no easy task.
The comments of Ronaldo and Bale following the Champions League victory, may not have been an accident as a revamp could be on the cards at the Bernabeu. However, such a large change at a club of Madrid’s stature, comes with immense risk, putting the managerial future of Zidane at risk. In his post-match press conference, Bale stated that he had been fit for all but six weeks of the season, but had been snubbed by Zidane, hinting at the formation of a rift between the players and the manager.
If Real were to lose any of their star players, without finding a suitable replacement, the balance of the side would be disturbed resulting in catastrophic consequences and a second La Liga title would have been hard to come by for the Frenchman, with their Catalan rivals having strengthened in key areas over a period of time.
“The time is right. It’s not a decision I’ve taken lightly. I thought about it carefully and it’s the right decision, even though I imagine many may not agree. After three years Real Madrid needs a change, another way of working, another idea if we are to continue winning. I feel it’s going to be difficult to continue winning and because I’m a winner, I’m going,” said the 45-year-old to the press in his last words to the media as Real Madrid boss.
This was a bold statement on the part of someone so young in management, but it is ultimately one that makes a lot of sense. Gone are the days of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, who could stay at a club for ages and re-invest successful teams that transcended generations. The football world that we live in exists in a state of entropy, with clubs having to constantly adapt to survive.
Zidane came through the coaching ranks at Madrid, won the lot and left on his own terms, giving us a lot to admire about the 45-year-old. He did what a lot of highly-experienced managers have failed to do in the past, by stepping down at the right time. He will now be remembered as one of the most successful managers in the history of the great old club, rather than a romantic that held on for too long. Where the club go from here is something that only time will tell.