Premier League – Jose Mourinho rejects Real Madrid return – but who will take over?
In-depth: Jose Mourinho has turned down the chance to return to Real Madrid as manager. But who will get the job?
The Chelsea coach departed the Bernabeu in 2013 after a three-year spell before beginning his second spell at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho has apparently been sounded out by Madrid president Florentino Perez to replace Carlo Ancelotti, who will end his second season the club without a trophy as Barcelona close in on a treble of Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey.
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The Italian coach has said that he unsure whether or not he will remain at Madrid next season, but it has been claimed that Madrid have already drawn up a list of possible replacements – with Mourinho among the leading candidates.
Sky’s Spanish football expert Guillem Balague claims Madrid have already contacted several candidates including Napoli coach Rafael Benitez and Julen Lopetegui of Porto.
“The idea is that Real now look for another coach – that is what normally happens when Real Madriddo not win,” said Balague.
“Real have spoken to Julen Lopetegui at Porto, to Jurgen Klopp, to Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho.
“They have already spoken to those four to see if they would be interested in coaching Real Madrid. They have spoken to Jose Mourinho – he said no to them, of course.
“Out of those four, Rafa is favoured by some but not others. Mourinho is favoured by some and not by others and Lopetegui is deemed as something for the future, but they have sounded out all of them.”
A month ago Carlo Ancelotti’s season could have gone either way, but defeat has followed crucial defeat. Failing to retain the Champions League is one thing, but Real’s humiliation in failing even to take the Liga title race to the last day will be too much to bear.
But while almost all bookmakers have stopped taking bets on Ancelotti to get fired (though Coral will still give you 1/3), there is no consensus at all on who will take over.
Our best bet is that none of the four managers mentioned by Balague will get the nod: Klopp and Benitez are too inconsistent, Mourinho won’t leave Chelsea, and Lopetegui is very much a wildcard.
Instead, Real will follow Barcelona’s lead: they’ll appoint a club legend, a man still young but who has cut his teeth in the second string squads. In other words, Zinedine Zidane will get his chance to become Real Madrid’s Pep Guardiola or Luis Enrique.