Zinedine Zidane returns to Real Madrid on a three year deal
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Zinedine Zidane returns to Real Madrid after 283 days away from the club and the timing just feels so right. Los blancos currently sit 12 points off La Liga leaders Barcelona in third place and having been embarrassed on home soil against Dutch giants Ajax in the last 16 of the Champions League; meaning, for the first time since 2012-13 season, the previous winners have failed to reach the quarter-finals the following season. Zidane's departure and sudden return reminds one of a perfect relationship ending due to timing and other circumstances and now the Frenchman returns to his one true love having seen them take a massive fall from grace and will be hoping to rekindle the love affair between the manager, club and most importantly the fans. Real Madrid were dealt with a double knockout blow in the summer of 2018 which they clearly haven't recovered from. Zinedine Zidane left Los Blancos a mere five days removed from the club's third Champions League win in a row after beating Liverpool 3-1 in Cardiff but Zidane desired time away. This was accompanied by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus and within a month or so the two key principles behind Madrid's success over the past few years had gone in an instant. Real Madrid never really recovered from that, with losing Ronaldo they were arguably losing the greatest player to ever play for the club but losing Zidane really kicked things in motion. With Zidane leaving, they were losing a manager who knew the traditions of the club and who was tactically aware of the setup installed at the club, having been under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti before emerging as one of the best managers in the world. Madrid's problems only further escalated as you had the situation with Julian Lopetegui's appointment and he only lasted until October with Santiago Solari replacing him. Their form hadn't got any better under Solari with the Argentinian overseeing back-to-back defeats against Barcelona in the Copa-Del Ray and the humiliation against Ajax. Zidane as a player was known for his wonderful vision and he had somewhat underlyingly predicted the slight downfall of the club since his departure in his first press conference back at the club. Zidane stated that "If I'm not sure 100 per cent that we keep winning if I've maybe got doubts, I think it's maybe time to leave," back in June. If you read between the lines it could suggest that Zidane wasn't confident in the plans going forward for the club with certain parts of the squad ageing and them in time not going out and signing the required players necessary ahead of Ronaldo's departure. What this means going forward? Well, Zidane will know extensively who he wants and doesn't want at the club and according to senior reporter Guillem Balaque has suggested that Zidane will have more free reign over the squad than he did the last time which was reportedly one of the issues leading to Zidane's departure in the first place. This could mean the end for Gareth Bale at Los Blancos. It is no secret that the Welshman is seriously considering leaving the Bernabeu having seemingly lost the passion to fulfil what many expected him to be a couple of years ago, which is duly down to form and unrest between the player and the fans. With Zidane's arrival, the exit door is looming large for Bale, with it being well known that the relationship between the player and Zidane on the rocks which led up to Bale openly admitting he was considering his future in an interview after The Champions League Final last season. This season for Madrid will be used now as a stepping stone for what could unfold next season but Zidane was right when changes needed to be made. Domestically speaking, they have only won two league titles in 10 years, with the Champions League victories providing solace for their poor league performances for such a big club. What's going to be key to Zidane's plans going forward is this summer in the transfer market. With Bale set to leave and investment needed to at least compensate for losing Ronaldo, Zidane will need backing from the Madrid board with them already looking at the likes of Eden Hazard and reportedly Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, although PSG doesn't want to sell their star assets. This will undoubtedly be Zidane's biggest test as a manager as he sets out to rekindle the Real Madrid romance. Image rights - Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zinedine_Zidane_by_Tasnim_02.jpg & https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gareth_Bale_sacando_cornet.JPG
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