Julen Lopetegui has a made a smart move by adding former Los Blancos midfielder Albert Celades to his coaching staff as his chief assistant.
The duo know each other well.
Celades worked as one of Lopetegui’s right-hand men as part of Spain’s national set-up ahead of the World Cup, before the latter’s infamous sacking.
Indeed, the 42-year-old Celades, who spent five seasons at Los Blancos between 2000 and 2005 having started his career at the Whites’ eternal rivals Barcelona, was in the frame to succeed Lopetegui for La Roja’s top job before Fernando Hierro got the nod for Russia (albeit only temporarily).
Either way, the ex-defensive but ball-playing central midfield star is highly-rated as a coach and arrives in the Bernabeu dugout with the credentials of having led Spain’s under-16 and 21 sides at various junctures since 2013, and securing a 2017 European Championship final berth with the older age group.
The opportunity to return to Madrid proved too good to turn down for him, and given he had a similar fallout with the Spanish Football Federation like Lopetegui even after staying on with the team throughout this summer’s tournament, it makes sense that these two should be back working together, but in a completely new realm minus Cristiano Ronaldo.
Celades brings a calming, assured voice to the dressing room and will also command respect from Real’s star-studded set of players.
Amazingly, the winner of four La Liga titles – two with Barcelona and a brace with Real along with a 2002 Champions League winners’ medal to boot – Celades featured during the Galactico era but never quite excelled, or indeed lived up to his potential as a rising teenage star at Camp Nou.
Still, the one-time Real Zaragoza and New York Red Bulls man has bags of experience and pedigree under his belt, including assisting Vicente del Bosque during the 2014 World Cup, and it should make for a seamless fit.
Lopetegui’s plans to build around Isco and make the Spaniard the focal point of Real during 2018/19 will also include Celades, who whilst never being on the same technical level as Real’s current No22, is set to be tasked with helping Isco understand what is required of him in a free playmaking role.
Indeed, the coach’s ball retention and possession-based tactical ideas to build from the back this coming term are very much on the same wavelength as Celades, who earned a reputation as a slick passer and disciplined his Spanish youth sides to create from defence.
Possession-based football is a hallmark of Lopetegui’s teams, as we saw from the former Real Madrid goalkeeper during his time with Spain but he will need to work closely alongside Celades in instilling an effective pressing system in La Liga.
Hola everyone, David Cooper here. Welcome to Friday’s Real Madrid blog where we will be keeping you up to date on all the latest news, features and gossip from the Santiago Bernabeu.
Follow our updates below…
12:44am – Madrid make shrewd coaching hire
Julen Lopetegui has picked former Los Blancos midfielder Albert Celades as his chief assistant – and our Stuart Appleby says the appointment is a shrewd one.
Read his comment here.
11:40pm – Sampdoria riff on Ronaldo in new signing
Serie A club Sampdoria have signed young English midfielder Ronaldo Vieira – and had a cheeky dig at the blockbuster signing of the summer in the process, with their tweet unveiling the player looking nearly identical to the one Juventus put out when they completed the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo from Madrid.
Read more here.
6:19pm – Cristiano Ronaldo has moved on quickly from Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t taken long to move on from Real Madrid… well, on social media at least.
Find out more here.
12:26pm – After exhausting their goalkeeping options, Chelsea will not sanction Thibaut Courtois’ Real Madrid move
The Daily Express claim Chelsea have weighed up their options, and although the club were once open to the sale, Courtois will now not be departing.
Read more on this here.
9:39am – Real Madrid president Florentino Perez slaps €750m price tag on Luka Modric
He may be approaching his 33rd birthday, but Luka Modric is obviously still thought of highly at Real Madrid – especially president Florentino Perez it seems, who says there is no chance the diminutive Croatian will leave for anything less than €750 million.
Goal reports Perez declaring that any buyer must pay the World Cup Golden Ball winner’s release clause (£670m/$870m).
One of his many admirers are Serie A side Inter Milan, who reportedly hoped Modric was prepared to tell the European champions he was ready for a change.
However, Perez has dashed those hopes by sticking an exorbitant price tag on Modric that is sure to chase off any interested team.
“The only possibility that Modric leaves is by paying €750 million,” Perez told reporters.
The midfielder’s Bernabeu contract runs until June 2020.