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Tuesday 12. March 2019 - 09:26

How Zinedine Zidane returned to Real Madrid and took control from Florentino Perez

The Frenchman is back in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu and with more power than ever before.

Zinedine Zidane has returned to Real Madrid with the promise of cash to revitalise the club and the chance to do whatever he deems necessary to put Los Blancos back on top.

The Frenchman has been re-appointed as manager, 10 months after leaving following three successive Champions League titles.

Zidane has returned to replace Santiago Solari following the Argentine’s sacking, after his four-and-a-half month stint in charge.

Last week’s disastrous trio of home matches, which saw back-to-back defeats to Barcelona to knock them out of the Copa del Rey and leave them well off the pace in La Liga, plus the Champions League humiliation by Ajax, sealed Solari’s fate.

Florentino Perez’s interest in returning Jose Mourinho to the Bernabeu hotseat was vetoed by senior stars, leaving Perez to turn to back to Solari's predecessor's predecessor.

Zidane walked away after the success over Liverpool in Kiev last May, believing it was the end of his journey with the current side; differences in opinion with Perez over the futures of Cristiano Ronaldo, Keylor Navas and Gareth Bale all played their part.

But crucially the door remained ajar on a future return. Amid the frustration, it was all very amicable, allowing for a comeback. It had been expected to be much later than this, in the post-Perez era, but instead, needs must and it is the route down which Perez has gone following the failures of both Julen Lopetegui and Solari.

The president made overtures to Zidane in the aftermath of the 4-1 thrashing by Ajax, which ended Madrid’s European dominance.

But initially, Zidane was reticent to return - which led Perez to sound out ex-Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho himself had insisted that he had no problem returning to the Spanish capital, following a three-year spell from 2010 to 2013.

But Madrid’s players, notably captain Sergio Ramos - with whom the Portuguese fell out towards the end of his time at the club - made clear their unhappiness.

That saw Perez return to Zidane, with the promise of substantial cash to spend to renovate a side that Zidane walked away from, partially due to a belief that it was ageing and in need of serious renovation.

And he also had to make clear to that Zidane would have more say over the management of the club, not just what happens on the field. Assurances, not just a bumper contract, were given; Perez recognised he was negotiating from a position of weakness, while Zidane similarly knew he was doing so from a position of power.

As such, Madrid are set to push for two main targets this summer on Zidane’s say so: Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.

Hazard has made no secret of his desire to play for both Madrid and his childhood hero Zidane previously, and with his contract at Chelsea heading towards its final year, he is primed to move to La Liga.

Eriksen’s contract at Tottenham is also heading towards its final 12 months, and while Daniel Levy won’t sell cheap, Spurs’ backs are against the wall when it comes to the Dane.

Kylian Mbappe is also likely to be targeted, while Neymar is Perez's dream; neither are likely to be sold by Paris Saint-Germain, particularly not the former, despite the president declaring: "I'd take them both."

Perez has had to make other concessions to entice Zidane, notably that Gareth Bale - who wasn’t a regular in Zidane's two full seasons at the helm and whom he wanted to sell before departing - will be sold this summer. It is also bad news for Dani Ceballos, and offers James Rodriguez no way back.

Zidane’s return is good news for Spain star Isco, who became an outcast under Solari but was integral during Zidane’s previous tenure, and also Ramos, whose future has recently been called into question.

"The best manager in the world has rejoined the club," said Perez as he announced Zidane’s return "Real Madrid fans are proud that you are here again with us, for everything you achieved as a player and as a manager."

"Thank you Zizou for being with us again. Thank you for your loyalty. And thank you for being part of this legendary club. Welcome back home."

For his part, Zidane, amid the thanks, repeatedly made mention of "changes" as he was unveiled for the second time.

The Santiago Bernabeu is now Zidane’s house to do with as he wishes.

Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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