After two Clásico losses in four days that capped a miserable season for Real Madrid at the hands of eternal rivals Barcelona, Real Madrid are considering Santiago Solari’s long-term position at the club.
The former reserve team coach made the step up from Castilla last November after Julen Lopetegui was sacked following a 5-1 thrashing at Camp Nou and has been largely lauded for his efforts since, particularly in his promotion of youth and handling of under-performing established stars.
However, after being knocked out of the cup and, effectively, the Liga title race in a single week, Solari’s position is under renewed scrutiny. The Argentinean signed a contract until 2021 when he was made permanent manager shortly after taking over as caretaker.
Solari does have one card left to play when the bargaining table is pulled out at the end of the season: the Champions League. If Madrid were to win Europe’s elite club competition for a remarkable fourth time in a row, it would be very difficult for Florentino Pérez to dismiss Solari. On the other hand, Zinedine Zidane’s incredible run in the competition has almost normalized being European champions and it may take a historic set of victories against stellar opposition for Pérez to swayed towards his current coach. In the meantime, the Bernabéu board are weighing up three main targets to replace him.
The Germany coach has long been on Pérez’s wish list and ticks all the boxes on the Real president’s list of attributes a Real Madrid manager should possess: elegance, a sophisticated methodology, media presence and a proven track record. Löw has had Germany consistently competing on the grandest stages – the Russia 2018 debacle excepted – and won the World Cup in 2014. However, after 15 years with the national team, Löw has hinted that a return to club management, where his achievements include an Austrian league title, a DfB Pokal and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final, would appeal.
“It’s pretty obvious that the majority of my career with Germany has now passed so there will come a time when you have to think about what to do next,” Löw said recently. “For my part, I’m still interested in managing a club. I think it would be abroad, not in Germany. Real Madrid is an interesting club for every coach.”
The Juventus coach was handed the tools to win the Champions League for the Turin giants for the first time since 1995-96 with the signing of Cristiano Ronaldobut Juve’s 2-0 defeat at Atlético has put that goal in serious jeopardy. The Italian tactician has led Juve to two final, in 2015 and 2017, where his side lost to Barça and Madrid, respectively.
Domestically though Allegri’s record is impeccable. He has made Juventus practically impossible to beat in Serie A and has won five Scudetti and four Coppas Italia. In 184 games with Juve, he has lost just 32 and Pérez considers him an ideal candidate to return domestic hegemony to the Bernabéu.
The Tottenham coach has been at the top of Pérez’s list since the departure of Zidane last summer but found it impossible to prise the Argentinean away from Daniel Levy and a recently signed long-term contract at Spurs.
Madrid and Tottenham have a “mutual understanding” reached when Luka Modric moved from White Hart Lane to the Bernabéu and that facilitated Gareth Bale’s transfer a year later but Levy has grown tired of having his best players pinched by Pérez and was not amused when talk of possible moves for Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen emerged earlier this season.
Pochettino is Pérez’s preferred option, not just because of the wonders he has worked at Spurs on a tight budget and with an emphasis on youth, but also because of the former Espanyol manager’s natural disinclination to all things azulgrana. The fact that Pochettino speaks Spanish is also seen as a bonus, Pérez having previously stated he prefers native speakers.