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REAL MADRID

Real Madrid: Guti emerging as frontrunner to replace Lopetegui

Guti.

PEPE ANDRES

With Julen Lopetegui seemingly a dead man walking, Florentino Pérez is increasingly considering the option of the Real playing legend.

For the moment, Julen Lopetegui is to stay on as Real Madrid head coach - at least until next Sunday's Clásico against Barcelona. However, the club's hierarchy have lost confidence in him. Real president Florentino Pérez feels that, with Lopetegui failing to find a winning formula, it is growing more and more unlikely that he will be able to turn the situation around. And, in the wake of Saturday's LaLiga defeat to Levante, one name has begun to gain greater and greater traction in Pérez's conversations with fellow club chiefs: Guti.

Guti seen as Zidane-esque option for Real Madrid dugout

The former Real Under-19s boss, who is now assistant coach at Turkish side Besiktas, is viewed favourably as a potential emergency solution. After Zinedine Zidane's successful tenure in the Bernabéu dugout, the European champions are attracted by the similar characteristics that Guti possesses: he is a figure who knows the club inside out, is hugely popular with the fans and is a familiar figure to many members of the squad - something which would leave him well placed to establish a closer connection with the players as Los Blancos seek to revive a faltering season in which they are now four points adrift of LaLiga leaders Barça.

Working against Guti, however, is his inexperience as a top-level coach, although that was also the case of Zidane, who only had a year and a half in charge of the club's 'B' team, Castilla, on his CV when he was appointed. Guti, 41, chose to move to Turkey in the summer after the club opted against promoting him to the Castilla dugout - despite his fine results with the Under-19s - and kept fellow former Real player Santiago Solari in the post for a third consecutive season.

Solari has also been considered by Pérez and Real's general manager, José Ángel Sánchez, but with Castilla enjoying a good campaign in Segunda B, their preference is to leave the Argentine in charge of the second team ahead of a potential promotion play-offs bid at the end of the season.

Lopetegui seemingly a dead man walking

Either way, the club do not plan to fire Lopetegui before the Clásico - barring a disaster in the Champions League clash with Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday. The former Spain coach told Pérez after the loss to Levante that he feels able and determined to turn the side's fortunes around. However, as has been revealed by the Spanish radio station Cadena SER, Pérez lost faith in Lopetegui after the defeat to Alavés earlier in October - so much so that he was minded to sack him then - and it appears a matter of when, not if, the Basque is shown the door.

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