Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari ‘is gone’ following their Champions League exit at home to Ajax on Tuesday.
That’s the verdict of Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, who claims Solari could be sacked if they lose away at Valladolid on Sunday.
Ajax delivered a stunning blow to break Real’s three-year stranglehold on the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Despite trailing 2-1 heading into the second leg at the Bernabeu, the Dutch side managed to reach the last eight of the competition by thrashing the holders 4-1 on their own turf.
Solari was already under huge pressure at the club after suffering back-to-back defeats against Barcelona, which saw their bitter rivals move ahead of them in the all-time El Clasico win charts, and Balague insists their humbling at home to Ajax was the final nail in his coffin.
" Solari’s gone, Solari is gone and he could even be gone at the weekend," he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast.
"They play Valladolid, if they lose against Valladolid - then he could get the sack."
"The problem is who you replace him with. Who do you replace him? ‘Cos you’ve wasted that bullet, this is somebody that they trusted, that he could become, not a [Zinedine] Zidane, but certainly somebody from the club that can become the manager of the first team. Well that’s gone now."
"Now what next is what everybody’s focusing on, but you still have to realise that something has happened to the model of Real Madrid that is broken. They haven’t signed a Galactico since 2013/14 - James Rodriguez."
"So what is it that you’re about? Getting some of the best youngsters around, fine. You can get Vinicius for €40m, Rodrigo for €40m, you can get Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos etcetera, but you never will build a team that is a winning side like the era that’s just finished. You have to mix it."
"And I think they’ve forgotten that kind of balance. They won a lot. Four Champions Leagues in five years, which means that the more you win the less you’re able to win. Less hungry, you stop doing the things that made you win, and nobody had enough strength or leadership, certainly from the bench, to tell Toni Kroos: ‘man, you’re terrible.’"
"Tell Casemiro: ‘why do you stop doing the things that you do?’ Yes Marcelo was sat on the bench and Marcelo will be sold, Gareth Bale was also identified as a problem and that I don’t get, and I’m on my own on this one in Spain I think."
"If you have somebody like Bale who scores the goals for you, give him the chance to do so. But instead, when he came back from his injury in January he’s been on the bench seven times, started three games. That’s now how you’re gonna get the best out of Bale."
"Right now he’s upset, he’s annoyed, but in fact the minutes he played against Ajax in the second leg, he was perhaps their best player. Hit the post, had chances etcetera etcetera. So you’re not exploiting that."
According to Spanish outlet AS, Real have already approached Jose Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes about bringing the Portuguese back to the Bernabeu.
Mourinho, though, is believed to have reservations about returning as several players from his first tumultuous spell in Madrid remain at the club.
The 56-year-old won La Liga in his three-year stint at Real before returning to Chelsea in 2013.
Zinedine Zidane was reportedly Perez’s first choice, but the Frenchman has no interest in a swift comeback.