Zinedine Zidane has returned to Real Madrid just 10 months after leaving the Spanish giants, having led them to an unprecedented three Champions League titles.
The Frenchman will replace Santiago Solari, who it is believed had been offered the chance to stay on at the Santiago Bernabeu in an undisclosed role.
The club confirmed Zidane’s return via a statement released on Twitter, with a press conference scheduled for 20:00 CEST (22:00 UAE) to welcome Zidane back. The 46-year-old has signed a deal until June 2022.
Solari was in charge for less than five months but saw Los Blancos’ campaign slide into disaster under his tenure after replacing Zidane’s original successor, Julen Lopetegui, in October. Real have opted to replace Solari with their former boss with immediate effect.
Solari’s fate seem sealed after a shocking few weeks, culminating in Tuesday’s Champions League exit to Ajax. A humiliating 4-1 home defeat and 5-3 aggregate loss to the Dutch side appeared to be the final straw for Real president Florentino Perez.
Solari oversaw a 4-1 win over Real Valladolid on Sunday even though Real rode their luck as the home side missed a penalty and saw two goals ruled out via VAR.
The defeat by Ajax followed two consecutive El Clasico defeats to Barcelona – a 1-0 loss in La Liga and a 3-0 thrashing in the Copa del Rey.
The club announced that Solari, who made nearly 150 appearances for Real as a player in the early 2000s before returning to the club in 2013 as youth coach, has been offered the chance to stay at the club.
A statement on the club’s official website read: “The Real Madrid board of directors, which met today, Monday 11 March 2019, has decided to terminate Santiago Solari’s contract as first-team coach, whilst Real Madrid have offered him the opportunity to remain at 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.
“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.
“The Real Madrid president will address the media alongside Zinedine Zidane at 8pm (CET) tonight in the Santiago Bernabeu media room.”
Real Madrid striker Karm Benzema has called on to the fans and journalists to show them more support.
Los Blancos just endured one of their worst weeks in history, losing to rivals Barcelona twice at home before being knocked out of the Champions League by Ajax.
A 4-1 win over Real Valladolid comes as a huge relief and Benzema took the opportunity to appeal to the people, asking for more support.
“It has been difficult [recently], but football is like that and we have to work and continue trying to win the 11 games we have left [in LaLiga Santander],” he said, according to Marca.
“We must try to enjoy our football, which is the most important thing, and always have to win because we want people to be with us more.
“I don’t mean only the fans but the journalists, too. When I talk about people, I mean everyone.
“I’m not saying that the media have to be with us, but we shouldn’t forget that we have won many things and that is important.
“It is a difficult thing to do because every year the opposition get tougher.
“I’m only saying this because we have won a lot in recent years but when we lost to Ajax it seemed that Madrid never won anything.”
Real Madrid were finally able to shrug off recent set-backs and have their spirits lifted up with a convincing display in a 4-1 win over Real Valladolid away from home.
This comes as a huge relief to gaffer Santiago Solari who is still in danger of being sacked.
Nacho Fernandez has revealed that the relationship between the players and the manager is difficult, but maintained that they are with him to death.
“The relationship with the boss [Solari] is difficult as things are not going well,” he said in his post-match interview, according to Marca.
“But we are with him to the death.”
Los Blancos did not have the best of starts as Valladolid missed a penalty and had two goals disallowed thanks to VAR. But they reacted well to take the game away from the hosts in the second half.
“The first half we were absent-minded and untidy,” said Nacho.
“We’ve been lucky with the VAR [today].
“We reacted well and the second half was ours.”