New Real Madrid coach's in-tray: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale...


New Real Madrid coach's in-tray: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale...

New Real Madrid coach's in-tray: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale...

Whoever replaces Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid's head coach will have a few key matters that require their immediate attention.

Real Madrid are yet to appoint a successor to Zinedine Zidane, who made the surprise announcement of his departure as Bernabéu head coach on Thursday, but whoever replaces the Frenchman will find several matters requiring their attention. Some, such as resolving the Cristiano Ronaldo situation and sorting out Gareth Bale's future, are of major significance.

Here are some of the things in the next Real boss's in-tray:

The Cristiano Ronaldo issue

Without doubt the major fire that needs to be put out. Cristiano well and truly pooped Real Madrid's Champions League party when he told a post-match interview in Kiev: "It has been great playing for Madrid... I'll speak in the next few days." Some months ago, the Portuguese had even said to team-mates that he was planning to leave Real. His grievances with the club stem from Florentino Pérez's post-2017 Champions League final promise of an improved contract, which Los Blancos' president then went back on. The situation has hardly been helped by Pérez's constant flirtation with Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar, either (one example of which came on the night of the Ballon d'Or gala, where CR7 was presented with the award for the fifth time in his career). The Real Madrid hierarchy are, in turn, unhappy with the player for making his incendiary remarks in Kiev, with the consensus being: It was not the time for that. During Real's trophy celebrations the day after the final, the fans made their feelings loud and clear to Ronaldo - and in the process, Pérez - by shouting, "Cristiano, please stay!" in chants that were echoed by his fellow players. Cristiano's camp expect him to be at Real next season, but Zidane's resignation adds uncertainty to the forward's future. The new boss will be tasked with helping to calm this storm.

Gareth Bale's future

Bale put a host of potential suitors on red alert straight after Real's Champions League win when he admitted that he wanted more regular football, telling reporters: "Obviously, I was very disappointed not to start the game [in Kiev], I felt that I deserved to, but it’s the manager who makes the decisions. Obviously I need to play every week, something that hasn’t been the case this season. I’ll have to sit down with my agent and talk about it." Despite Manchester United's interest, the Welshman opted to remain in Madrid last summer to give himself one last chance to truly explode at Real, but as the months passed he came to the realisation that that wasn't going to happen under Zidane, who left him on the bench on a host of big nights: both legs of the Champions League ties against PSG and Bayern Munich, the opener of Real's quarter-final with Juventus, and the final. Now, Zidane's decision to leave the club must feel like manna from heaven to the 'Cardiff Express'. He remains a favourite of the president, and this change of coach has suddenly lengthened the odds of his Bernabéu career coming to a close this summer.

Zidane leaves after announcing his resignation on Thursday.

Real Madrid's goalkeeper

The goalkeeping question has been a constant bone of contention since Iker Casillas left in 2015. That summer, Real were on the verge of signing David de Gea from Manchester United, only for the deadline-day deal to be embarrassingly scuppered by late-arriving paperwork. The Spaniard remained at Old Trafford and Keylor, who had been set to move in the opposite direction, stayed in Madrid. Yet despite the Costa Rican's general dependability between the sticks, he has never completely gained the trust of the club's hierarchy, who have continued to comb the market for a keeper. The likes of De Gea, Thibaut Courtois and Bernd Leno have all been linked with Real, while in January the European champions had all but agreed the signing of Athletic Bilbao's Kepa Arrizabalaga, only for Zidane to put the brakes on the move. "I don't need a goalkeeper," declared 'Zizou', who never shared his bosses' desire to bring in another custodian. It will now be down to his replacement to sit down with the club and decide whether or not to strengthen in the position.

Neymar, signing a number nine...

Real Madrid's disastrous LaLiga title defence, coupled with their premature elimination from the Copa del Rey at the hands of Leganés, led the club to the conclusion that, whether or not the team went on to win a third straight Champions League, the squad needed summer surgery. Responsibility for that process - one which Real's powers-that-be had counted on being able to carry out alongside Zidane - will now, in part, fall to his successor. There are a number of transfer-window issues to be resolved that are crucial to the team's future: the signing of Neymar (a player that "I haven't asked for", Zidane went as far as saying at one point), the debate over whether or not to buy a number nine who can compete with Karim Benzema, making a decision on Dani Ceballos (who was purchased last year for 16.5m euros having been labelled as one of Spanish football's great white hopes, and comprehensively failed to win Zidane's trust), sorting out the future of the players out on loan (such as Vinicius Junior, Raúl de Tomás, Martin Odegaard)...


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