Zinedine Zidane’s has announced to quit Real Madrid just five days after leading the team to their third consecutive Champions League title.
An article on Marca’s website claimed the news has “hit the dressing room like a bomb”, while El Mundo stated “the club have never believed there could be a better captain for such a difficult ship”.
The news clearly came as a total shock to Perez, who spent much of the news conference sitting at Zidane’s side with a vacant expression on his face, as though he was struggling to believe what he was hearing.
Perez announced that Zidane had only told him about his decision the previous day. Zidane said he had spoken to the Real captain, Sergio Ramos, and he would speak to the other club captains, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo, in due course. He said he had no plans to manage another club but was not tired of coaching.
“I would have liked to convince him but I know how he is,” Pérez said at the start of the press conference.
Zidane was honest in admitting the reason for quitting the club. “I have taken the decision not continue as coach of Real Madrid next year,” Zidane said. “I spoke to the president to explain what I thought. I think it is the moment, for me and for the squad. I know it is a bit of a strange moment but I think it is the right moment. This is a team that should keep on winning and it needs a change for that. After three years, it needs another discourse, another working methodology, and that’s why I took this decision.”
“There are complicated moments in the season when you ask: ‘Am I still the right person? I don’t forget the hard moments too. There are lovely moments and we ended with a spectacular moment but there are hard moments that make you reflect.” Zidane had no hesitation in pinpointing the Copa del Rey exit against Leganes in January.
“I think it’s the moment to go,” he added. “I also think the players need a change. They’re the ones who fight on the pitch. It’s not easy for them. It’s a demanding club, a club with a huge history and the players are always squeezed. We always want more and more and there is a moment when you think: ‘Well, what more can I ask from my players?’ I want to win and if I don’t see clearly that we’re going to keep on winning, then it is best to change and not do anything stupid.”
Who next for Real?
A number of names are being circulated as potential replacements for Zidane, Real did not say anything about the successor but Mauricio Pochettino is among those they have long identified as candidates. However, Pochettino signed a new five-year contract with Spurs just a few days ago.
In that case, another obvious candidate is soon-to-be-outgoing Chelsea coach Antonio Conte, but the fiery Italian might be a bit too much of a loose cannon for Perez, who would prefer to employ someone a little easier to control – and someone with a more attacking philosophy.
Soon-to-be-outgoing Chelsea coach Antonio Conte, Germany boss Joachim Low is also being linked with the job.
Zinadine stated in his news conference, this could be a “see you later”, rather than a “goodbye”.