Zinedine Zidane has left Real Madrid for a second time.
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The news had been percolating for some time, as fellow club legend Raul was whispered to take his place as recently as May 16. Many, including Real’s Toni Kroos, thought the rumors were ridiculous.
Toni, it’s true.
Real Madrid confirmed the news and said Zidane has decided to step down, but left the door wide open for a return.
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“Real Madrid C. F. announces that Zinedine Zidane has decided to bring an end to his current spell as head coach of our club.
“We must now respect his decision and express our gratitude for his professionalism, dedication and passion over the years and what he means to Real Madrid.
“Zidane is one of Real Madrid’s great icons and his legacy extends beyond what he has achieved as a coach and player at our club. He is aware that he has a place in the hearts of the Real Madrid fans and that he will always have a home at Real Madrid.”
The right time for Zidane to step down?
Zidane, who turned 49 last month, returned to the Real managerial chair in March 2019 after a 2.5-year stint from January 2016-May 2018.
He won La Liga once in each stint but delivered Real its most-sought trophy on three occasions, leading the club to three European Cups from 2015 to 2018.
“Zizou” finished his legendary playing career with Madrid after stints with Cannes, Bordeaux, and Juventus, winning trophies at all clubs but Cannes and lifting the 1998 World Cup with France.
This season saw Real finish second in La Liga to city rivals Atletico Madrid, and Zidane had been linked with a return to another club from his playing days in Juventus (Andrea Pirlo is still on the books there), but it appears Max Allegri could take charge at his former club.
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Antonio Conte could also be on the market, which would leave mean Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and Tottenham would be among the big clubs seeking new managers.
This feels like the right time for Zidane to step down, as Real Madrid will be making plenty of big changes to their squad this summer, have financial issues to work through and will need to do things a little differently.
All in all, Zidane has done a fine job during his two stints in charge of Real Madrid but this was the right time to step down.
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Zinedine Zidane ends second stint as Real Madrid manager originally appeared on NBCSports.com