Real Madrid look at Antonio Conte as Zinedine Zidane replacement; first-choice Massimiliano Allegri set for return to Juventus; Conte left Inter Milan due to need to make significant financial cuts after leading them to Serie A title
Friday 28 May 2021 10:54, UK
Antonio Conte is being considered as Zinedine Zidane's successor at Real Madrid after they missed out on first-choice Max Allegri, according to Sky in Italy.
After Zinedine Zidane stepped down from the Bernabeu for a second time this week, the Spanish giants had been hoping to appoint long-term target Allegri - but he is set for a sensational return to Juventus to replace Andrea Pirlo.
They have now turned to Conte, who is a free agent after parting company Inter Milan on Wednesday despite leading them to the Serie A title, due to a need to make significant financial cuts.
Conte is a prolific title-winner with Juventus himself, as well as Chelsea and this season Inter.
Allegri's agent was in Madrid on Tuesday but, for the second time in his career, he has turned Real down in favour of a second spell with his former club.
Ex-Juventus star Zidane called time on his second spell in charge of the La Liga club after failing to win a trophy this season, following two league titles and three Champions League victories since he began his first spell at the helm in 2015.
Zidane told club directors and the first-team squad of his decision on Wednesday and finalised his exit at Real's Valdebebas training complex on Thursday.
His departure comes after Real narrowly lost out on the league title to city rivals Atletico Madrid at the weekend. Real finished second in La Liga, two points behind Atletico, and were knocked out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage and the Copa del Rey in the round of 32 to end the season without a trophy for the first time in 11 years.
Off the field, Real were one of the key players behind the failed Super League breakaway with the club president, Florentino Perez, repeatedly defending the plan and engaging in a war of words with Uefa that shows no sign of slowing down.
"It is now time to respect his decision and show him our appreciation for his professionalism, dedication and passion in all these years, and for what his figure represents for Real Madrid," a club statement read.
"Zidane is one of the great myths of Real Madrid and his legend goes beyond what he has been as a coach and player of our club. He knows that he is at the heart of Real Madrid and that Real Madrid is and will always be his home."
Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero told Sky Sports:
"It's an option that Zidane could replace Mauricio Pochettino at PSG. He's unpredictable and he could well head back to France if Pochettino decides to return to Tottenham.
"It was thought that Juventus was an option before they turned to Massimiliano Allegri to replace Andrea Pirlo. But who knows what will happen after the Euros?
"Perhaps Didier Deschamps will leave the French national team and maybe Zidane will be his replacement. He's unpredictable so could stay a whole year without coaching."
Real Madrid will listen to offers for Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale this summer amid their continued interest in Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.
Hazard has scored only five times since he moved from Chelsea two years ago in a deal worth up to £130m.
Injury problems mean the Belgian has featured in only 43 games across all competitions in two seasons in Spain.
The 30-year-old was not in the squad for Saturday's game against Villarreal as Real finished the campaign second in La Liga, two points behind champions Atletico Madrid.
The collapse of the proposed European Super League, plus their ongoing interest in Mbappe and Haaland, means Real Madrid need to raise money from player sales this summer.
As well as Hazard and Bale, Real will listen to offers for other players such as Luka Jovic.