The UK’s Daily Mail is reporting that Zinedine Zidane will almost certainly leave Real Madrid at the end of this season, regardless of whether they win La Liga.
They face Granada Thursday night and if they pick up a victory they will still be two points behind Atletico Madrid with two games to go.
But the 48-year-old coach, who has won two league titles and three Champions League crowns in less than four seasons, has all but made up his mind to walk away after the final game of the campaign at home to Villarreal on May 23.
Zidane will be an immediate target for Juventus and for the France national side if they make a change after the Euros this summer.
Madrid president Florentino Perez will be under pressure to promote Raul to replace him. He currently has the club’s youth team on the verge of promotion but Perez could also turn to Max Allegri.
Zidane has sensed for some time that he no longer has the backing of Perez and even a third league title, one that will make him the first coach to retain the league for Madrid since Leo Beenhakker in 1989, is unlikely to change his mind.
Zidane has maintained he has the overwhelming support of the dressing room this season and a disagreement this week with left-back Marcelo, leading to him being left out of the squad for tonight’s game, is not at the heart of the coach’s discontent.
The Brazilian will be off at the end of the season anyway. Their falling-out is being seen more as a symptom than a cause of what looks like an imminent divorce.
Marcelo believed Zidane was overly critical of a recent Real Madrid training session when he had urged his players to prepare with more intensity for a must-win game.
He spoke back to the manager in front of the squad and has been omitted from the trip to Granada.
Marcelo may not have played anyway because despite having depleted options in defence for tonight’s game, Zidane was considering picking promising 19-year-old Miguel Gutierrez to start.
The young players who have emerged in recent weeks are now the only thing that could keep Zidane at Madrid.
If he is persuaded to build a new team around Gutierrez, centre-back Victor Chust, midfielders Sergio Arribas and Antonio Blanco, with the prospect of the club continuing its pursuit of Kylian Mbappe, then his mind could be changed.
But he does not believe there is a will in the Real Madrid boardroom to convince him to stay.
Madrid have threadbare resources going into tonight’s game. Alvaro Odriozola, Eder Militao, Nacho Fernandez and Gutierrez will be the back four because they are the last four fit defenders.
Zidane’s midfield trinity of Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric are fit to start alongside another of his favourites, the Uruguayan midfielder Fede Valverde. And he must decide between Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard to partner Karim Benzema.
If Madrid are beaten, then Atletico could clinch the league by winning at home to Osasuna this Sunday.