Zinedine Zidane’s departure from Real Madrid sent shockwaves through world football and has further enhanced the uncertainty surrounding the club. The Frenchman announced his resignation just five days after winning his third successive Champions League title and his exit has left a void which starts a massive summer for the club.
A chaotic domestic season saw the club’s title challenge killed by Christmas and their meek Copa del Rey exit to Leganes the following month led to further embarrassment. Zidane has walked out on his terms and on top, but it also confirms suspicions that he had been harrowed by the club’s disastrous campaign in Spain and did not envisage himself being the man to turn the situation around.
Within half an hour of the club’s 13th European Cup being secured – and a remarkable fourth in the space of five seasons – Bale had explicitly declared his desire to leave the club with Ronaldo also hinting strongly at a summer departure. This has inevitably cranked up media speculation, even if there is a sense of déjà vu surrounding such moves, which eventually do not come to fruition.
Both player’s noses had been put out of joint over the course of the season. Bale had been side-lined for large parts of the campaign and felt he had been made somewhat of a scapegoat for the club’s faltering season. For Ronaldo, it was more subtle and a mixture of issues – he does not believe the club have sufficiently backed him over his ongoing tax issues, he is unhappy with his wage packet (said to be half that of what Lionel Messi earns at Barcelona) and he was irritated by the club’s public pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar.
President Florentino Perez is fixated with the idea of bringing the former Barca star to the Bernabeu and the idea is for him to be the star arrival at Los Blancos at the soonest possible date. The sale of one or both of Bale and Ronaldo would also give Madrid the impetus to heavily invest across their squad.
It is easy to forget that the 2014 signing of Toni Kroos has been the most recent Madrid addition to go straight into their first-team. However, with a thinning squad and the possible departure of several fringe players this summer – Dani Ceballos, Mateo Kovacic, Borja Mayoral and Achraf Hakimi among them – that policy could significantly change this summer.
Without a first-team Coach in place and with the commencement of the World Cup, such restructuring will be fraught with difficulties but the next three months in Madrid promise to be fascinating.
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