REAL MADRID

The reasons behind Zidane's departure from Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane has announced his resignation as Real Madrid coach for the second time in three years. The factors behind his decision are very similar to those in 2018.

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The reasons behind Zidane's departure from Real Madrid
JAVIER SORIANO AFP

Zinedine Zidane has resigned as coach of Real Madrid for the second time in his managerial career.

The first resignation came in May, 2018. Now, almost precisely three years later, he has stepped down again for very similar reasons, making way to allow a new project to be started under the guidance of a new coach with new ideas.

The club has been preparing for this scenario for some weeks now, aware that the Frenchman was on the verge of stepping down. Now that the announcement is official, Madrid’s sporting bosses can get to work in finding his replacement and start planning for next season.

Question marks had been hanging heavily over Zidane’s future since March. Despite having a contract until 2022, he consistently refused to confirm that he would fulfill it. And at the end of this demanding season a year before the end of his deal, he is visibly exhausted. The team has had many problems this season (injuries, lack of goals, among other setbacks) and he has constantly stood up for his players. And his weariness from constantly being on the defensive was noticeable in his past few press conferences.

Zidane not willing to oversee Real Madrid overhaul

Another reason, which was also a factor in his decision to leave in 2018, is the necessity for a squad overhaul. Three years ago, Zidane had changes in mind, but faced with disagreements with the board and the responsibility of having to ‘kick out' players who had given him everything, he chose to leave.

This summer Madrid is establishing a new project that involves getting rid of several members of the squad -- some of them legends -- and handing more responsibility both to new signings and younger squad members, including some of those that will return from loan assignments like Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard. Zidane is not willing to lead this comprehensive process.

Zidane with the Champions League trophy shortly before he announced his resignation in 2018.

Zidane’s defence of the old Real Madrid guard

And this is subsequently linked to another factor. If one thing has characterized Zizou over these last few years, it has been his unwavering defense of his staff and players.

Players like Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos, who have been key pillars for the French coach, are on the verge of leaving. Without them, Zidane’s position is weakened and he knows it -- not to mention the fact that he still believes that these players still have a lot to give to Madrid.

A sense of betrayal

However, the reason that sparked Zidane's disillusionment with his position came around mid-season. At a time when Madrid were flirting with elimination from the Champions League and were well off the pace of leaders Atlético in the league, a few of those inside the club began leaking information that Zidane’s future was in question.

This did not sit well with the French coach, especially considering the injury issues the team was facing and the fact that they had not even yet dropped out of any competition. Time eventually proved him right, as Madrid managed to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League and fought for the league title until the last day. Beyond his frustrations with unfair criticism from within the club, Zidane also feels the media has been unjustly hard on him -- and often for no apparent reason.

Throughout the season in press conferences, he has made no effort to hide his disenchantment. "I am sure that Madrid can be a better team without me," he said at a press conference recently. The club is heading towards a new stage and not looking back. Zidane does not want to be part of that.