REAL MADRID

Real Madrid sound out Ancelotti as Zidane's replacement

AS can confirm that Real Madrid have made contact with Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti over a return to the Bernabéu to replace Zinedine Zidane.

Real Madrid sound out Ancelotti as Zidane's replacement
CLIVE BRUNSKILL REUTERS

Real Madrid have made initial contact with Carlo Ancelotti over a potential return to the Bernabéu to replace Zinedine Zidane, AS can confirm. After it was first reported on Spanish radio station Cadena SER on Monday, this paper has ascertained that the Madrid hierarchy have been in touch with the Italian tactician for the past week about taking the reins again six years after he left the club in 2015.

PSG boss Pochettino Real Madrid's first choice

However, there are some obstacles preventing the swift conclusion of a deal for the 61-year-old, who along with Zidane is one of only three managers to have won the Champions League three times. Firstly, there is the fact that Ancelotti is aware that he is the current third choice behind PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino and former Madrid striker Raúl. Secondly, it is no secret that Madrid have also been speaking to former Inter manager Antonio Conte, although those discussions have dropped off somewhat after the Serie A-winning coach laid out his financial and transfer market demands. Inter approached Ancelotti when it became clear Conte would leave but their offer was turned down.

Thirdly, Real president Florentino Pérez will probably have to swallow some humble pie after unceremoniously sacking Ancelotti in 2015 following a trophyless season despite the Italian delivering the long obsessed-over Décima a year earlier– something that a host of managers including José Mourinho, Manuel Pellegrini, Juande Ramos, Bernd Schuster and Fabio Capello all failed to do.

Ancelotti a safe pair of hands

As far as Madrid are concerned, Ancelotti is a safe pair of hands and someone to steady the ship after the departure of Zidane. The Italian’s avuncular style is seen as a key element to see Madrid through a period of transition with several senior players nearing the ends of their careers or eyeing the exit door. Ancelotti’s excellent relationship with those of his former charges still at the club is also a huge selling point after the failed experiments with Rafa Benítez and Julen Lopetegui.

Madrid will also have to come to a probably costly arrangement with Everton, where Ancelotti is under contract until 2024. The Toffees are already making their own moves to counter the possible departure of a coach who arrived to huge acclaim and raised the profile of the club with him. Former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has emerged as the frontrunner to take over at Goodison Park should Ancelotti depart.

The return of the former Milan, PSG, Chelsea, Juventus, Bayern and Napoli boss also depends in large part on what Pochettino decides to do. The Argentinean only joined the Ligue 1 giants in January but has already been linked with a return to Tottenham after seeing the title go to Lille on the final day of the season and falling short in the Champions League. However, Pérez will not force any move for the 49-year-old as the Madrid chief is keen to maintain cordial relations with PSG’s owners.

Madrid prefer to keep Raúl on the bench

Legendary striker Raúl remains an option but the Madrid board would prefer to keep him at reserve side Castilla for now to gain more experience – perhaps working alongside Ancelotti in a similar capacity to Zidane during the Italian’s previous tenure – and to have him on hand for a future appointment. Raúl, though, has an offer on the table from Eintracht Frankfurt should he prefer to take charge of a senior side.