Zinedine Zidane rocked world football on Thursday with the announcement of his resignation as Real Madrid coach, a decision which is likely to have a knock-on effect for several high-profile players.
The Frenchman guided Madrid to a third successive Champions League title just five days earlier, meaning he goes out in style and on his own terms.
But his departure suddenly leaves Los Blancos facing a period of uncertainty and that could impact a number of players, both at the Santiago Bernabeu and elsewhere.
Two of Madrid’s major stars, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, cast doubt on their respective futures at the weekend and all eyes will now be on them to see how Zidane’s decision influences their thoughts.
There are also potential targets who might become slightly more difficult to attain, as we have examined below.
Gracias Zidane. pic.twitter.com/Npo3bFN0Mb
— #CHAMP13NS (@realmadriden) May 31, 2018
Ronaldo’s post-Champions League comments hinting at an exit have been perceived by many as him trying to pressure Madrid into helping him out with his tax problems, as they have so far reportedly refused his requests.
With that in mind, the departure of a coach Ronaldo got on with could lead to him surmising it is time to move on as well, unless president Florentino Perez hires a replacement the Portuguese star knows well.
Madrid’s hero in the Champions League final win over Liverpool with a brace, Bale said after the game he needs to be playing more regularly after falling somewhat out of favour under Zidane.
Despite starting just 20 times in LaLiga this term, he still managed to score 16 goals and his cameo off the bench on Saturday proved just how good he remains. It is difficult to see Bale struggling for minutes regardless of who the next coach is.
— #CHAMP13NS (@realmadrid) May 27, 2018
Colombia international James enjoyed a solid first season at the Santiago Bernabeu, but he was not considered a key part of Zidane’s team after his arrival in January 2016. As such, his form suffered badly and he was sent out on a two-season loan to Bayern Munich last July.
Jupp Heynckes described James as being “depressed” after his Madrid woes, but with Zidane now gone and Bayern yet to exercise their purchase option, the talented playmaker might just fancy a second stab at life in LaLiga.
Madrid’s interest in Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga before he signed a new deal in January was well known, but throughout the saga Zidane insisted he had absolute confidence in Navas and that reportedly put the young Spain international off a move.
With Navas’ main backer in Zidane no longer there to protect him, the Madrid hierarchy may revisit previous goalkeeping options – they have also long been linked David de Gea – and the Costa Rica international is arguably one of the least secure players in the starting XI.
— #CHAMP13NS (@realmadriden) May 26, 2018
Chelsea star Hazard has often been linked with Madrid and ever since his declaration of admiration for Zidane in an interview last November, it has been a potential transfer which has appeared more and more likely, particularly given he still has not signed a new contract.
The Premier League side may now feel even more confident of keeping hold of their prized asset – or at least until Hazard’s idol Zidane turns up somewhere else.
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