Zinedine Zidane has returned to Real Madrid with recharged batteries and no regrets after signing a three-year contract to replace the sacked Santiago Solari.
Ten months after leaving the Santiago Bernabeu, having steered the club to a third straight Champions League trophy, Zidane answered a plea to return from club president Florentino Perez.
He rejoins a club reeling from last week’s Champions League exit at the hands of Ajax. They currently sit 12 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona, but the returning coach said he was relishing the challenge ahead.
Zidane told a press conference: ‘I have been living here in Madrid, doing my thing. But I have recharged my batteries. I’m ready to coach this great club again.
‘When I left, it was the best decision for everyone. The team and the squad needed a change. There is nothing more. Nine months passed and the club called me again.’
In a statement on Monday, Real confirmed the departure of Solari – who had himself taken over from the sacked Julen Lopetegui in October – but said the former Real player had been offered the chance to stay with the club.
‘Real Madrid wish to thank Solari for his work, commitment and the loyalty that he has always displayed towards this club, which is his home,’ read the club statement.
‘The board of directors also agreed on the appointment of Zinedine Zidane as head coach of Real Madrid with immediate effect for the remainder of the season, and the next three campaigns until 30 June 2022.’
Zidane will return to the Real dugout when they face Celta Vigo at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
Despite the inevitable plaudits – with Perez hailing Zidane as ‘the best manager in the world’ – continued continental success could not hide domestic failures during his previous reign.
Zidane walked out having overseen a La Liga season in which Real trailed in third place behind both city rivals Atletico and champions Barcelona, who finished 17 points ahead, hinting at problems to come.
He admitted: ‘Last season we won the Champions League, but we had a tough time in the Copa and in La Liga. I did a lot of things wrong.
‘When you won a lot, it’s normal that you have a dip. I watched from outside, but it’s as if I was still here.
‘I am not happy with what has happened. We need to look at what is missing. First we need to look at what we need now, and after that, what we need for the coming seasons.’
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