Real Madrid full-back Alvaro Arbeloa sees no reason why Jose Mourinho could not make a sensational return to the Santiago Bernabeu and says “the door is never shut” for the Portuguese.
During a three-year stay in the Spanish capital between 2010 and 2013, Mourinho won one La Liga and one Copa del Rey title.
However, he left after his third season amid well-publicised reports that his relationship had soured with key players, including captain Iker Casillas.
Mourinho has since returned to Chelsea and led the club to a Premier League and League Cup double last season, but a poor start to the current campaign has left his future in doubt.
Former Madrid president Ramon Calderon claimed in an interview with beIN SPORTS that Mourinho is still held in high regard at the club, and Arbeloa believes a return remains a possibility.
“I’ve been asked before and I always say ‘Yes, why not?'” he told The Independent. “He was a very important coach here.
“It is clear that because of the way he is, because he is very direct and he tells people straight, without hypocrisy, he upsets a lot of people.
“There are a lot of people waiting [for him to fail] but there are a lot more waiting to see him turn things around and move forward again. He’s a very good coach so I don’t think the door at Real Madrid is shut to him, no.”
Mourinho may have faced criticism this season, but Arbeloa defended his former coach and says he will always remain one of the greats.
“He was like a bullet-proof vest for the players,” he added. “If someone was picked on by the critics he was the first to defend him.
“He fought against the fixture list; against the kick-off times if he thought they went against us; or against a referee if he thought he had been unfair to Real Madrid.
“He has won the league in England, Italy, Spain and Portugal and two Champions Leagues with two different clubs. You can’t have any doubts about him. He still guarantees success.
“His problem is that he has spoiled people – every club he has managed, he has won things. He could retire today and he would go down as one of the best coaches in history. So imagine what he can still achieve in the future.”