Zidane and Ramos to leave? Real Madrid need a revolution
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Expert
It is time for change at Real Madrid. In reality, it has been for a while. Los Blancos’ first trophyless season since 2009-10 only serves to highlight that fact.
Madrid’s 2020-21 campaign was not a disaster. In fact, it was impressive in many ways. Through much adversity, Zinedine Zidane’s side somehow reached the Champions League semi-finals and were in contention for LaLiga right until the end.
But there was no trophy this time. LaLiga was lost to Real’s city rivals Atletico Madrid, while even Barcelona came through a crisis to claim the Copa del Rey.
To win LaLiga, Real had to beat Villarreal on Saturday and hope Atletico dropped points away to Real Valladolid. Despite going behind, Zidane’s side did keep their side of the bargain, but were left empty-handed as the Rojiblancos won at the José Zorrilla.
Asked afterwards to assess the season, Zidane said: “Our assessment is that we didn’t win anything. The players want to win.”
For the first time across his two spells in charge, Zidane has finished a season without silverware and all the focus now is on whether the Frenchman will stay beyond this summer.
“My state of mind is messed up because we didn’t win,” he added. And on his future, he said: “We will talk in the coming days. It is clear that I have to make a decision.”
In truth, there are many decisions to be made. Zidane has hinted that he will leave, but Madrid still hope he will continue.
If he does not, former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri and Real legend Raul (currently in charge of the club’s youth team, Castilla) are the two names in the frame to succeed him.
Will Zidane leave Real Madrid?
Zidane was asked on Friday whether Madrid could be a better team without him. “I’m sure,” he said. “Totally sure.”
But what happened when he left last time should tell everyone that is not necessarily the case.
And for all the criticism Zidane has received, he deserves credit for keeping the team in contention for the two biggest prizes in a season interrupted by over 60 separate injuries to his squad.
There is no guarantee that a coaching change will bring better results. Julen Lopetegui was Zidane’s successor in 2018 and the Basque was considered to be a superior tactician than the Frenchman, but the results proved disastrous.
Changing coach this time would leave the new man in a difficult position. Just like in 2019, the squad needs an overhaul and this time, there is not much money available.
Madrid’s last big signing, Eden Hazard, has played just 43 games for Los Blancos across two seasons and would likely be allowed to leave for the right price. But at the age of 30 and after a series of injury problems, the Belgian’s value has plummeted since his €100 million move from Chelsea in 2019.
Will Mbappe join Real Madrid?
Karim Benzema ended the season with 30 goals and carried Madrid’s attack once again, but the Frenchman will be 34 in December and he also needs help. Marco Asensio and Casemiro were the next-highest scorers with seven apiece.
Madrid-based sports show El Chiringuito has insisted Real will sign Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain this summer, but president Florentino Perez told the same programme recently that there would be no Galactico-style signings without the European Super League. That project is now dead and such a transfer therefore seems improbable.
Meanwhile, captain Sergio Ramos has not renewed his contract and looks set to walk away this summer, while Luka Modric will be 36 in September and surely cannot be relied upon for too much longer.
Reinforcements are needed in defence, midfield and attack. The revolution which was expected in 2019 never really materialised and Zidane’s superb squad management has seen Madrid through two tough seasons on his return.
But now, real change is required and with few funds available due to the impact of Covid-19, Los Blancos will need to get creative this summer.