Mourinho rejected by Real players as Zidane returns to Madrid

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ZIZOU RETURNS

Former Real Madrid president Roman Calderon says the club’s senior players opposed the idea of Jose Mourinho returning to the Santiago Bernabeu before it was announced that Zinedine Zidane would be returning.

The reigning Champions League holders made the announcement on Monday, with the Frenchman coming back to the club less than 12 months after leaving following a season of turmoil under first Julen Lopetegui, then Santiago Solari.

Zidane had been linked with a number of roles during his short break from management, including Chelsea, Manchester United and Qatar, but will now come back for a second spell as Madrid coach.

During his first go round, Zidane won one La Liga title and three Champions Leagues, becoming the first coach to ever win the competition three years running since its rebrand from the old European Cup.

Calderon had previously insisted that Mourinho was the board’s choice to take over, but intervention from the club’s senior players - presumably including Sergio Ramos and Marcelo who played under him previously - put an end to that idea.

"The dressing room leaders pushed to reject the possibility of Jose Mourinho," he said.

"He left [Real Madrid] a lot of problems and I think he would have been another problem to the ones we already have if he had come.

"I think Jose Mourinho would have been a step backwards, there was a lot of problems and controversy when he was here.

"He is a good coach with a lot of trophies but many of the leaders in the dressing room didn't like him and I think that was important in the decision-making."

Zinedine Zidane Real Madrid

WHAT NEXT FOR MADRID?

It is going to be a huge summer at the Bernabeu, with reports circulating today that Zidane was promised a £300m war chest to help improve and turn over what has this season looked a squad bereft of a star attacking player.

The absence of Cristiano Ronaldo has been perhaps more poignant than most had anticipated, with their current top scorer being Karim Benzema, who has 17 goals in all competitions. Only once did Ronaldo score fewer than 40 goals in a season for Madrid, with that coming in his debut campaign in 2009/10 where he scored 33 goals in 35 appearances.

Reportedly at the top of Zidane’s wishlist of players is Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, who had just one year remaining on his contract at Stamford Bridge heading into the summer. The Belgian has already confirmed he knows what he is going to do this summer, leading to speculation that he already knows he is Madrid-bound.

Also on his list of transfer targets is Hazard’s Chelsea teammate N’Golo Kante, as well as Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen, who like Hazard will have just one year left on his contract at the end of the season.

Current Madrid president Florentino Perez also commented on PSG and France striker Kylian Mbappe, saying: Zidane is French, so with Mbappe he could do something, no? Now what we need to do is finish the season well and prepare for next year."

When asked to choose between Mbappe and his PSG teammate Neymar, Perez added: "I'd take them both."

Gareth Bale, 29, and Luka Modric, 33, are heavily linked with moves away from the club, with the current Ballon D’Or holder Modric having his name consistently associated with Serie A side Inter Milan. As for Bale, there appears to be no shortage of Premier League interest, particularly from Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

Whatever happens, it is sure to be a fascinating summer at the Bernabeu as they look to rebuild a new generation of Galacticos.

Gareth Bale Real Madrid
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