Julen Lopetegui is on the brink of being sacked by Real Madrid. So who could replace him at the Santiago Bernabeu? Here are the options…
Real Madrid are currently four games without a win and if things don’t turn around quickly Florentino Perez may be back in the market for a new manager. Here are a few names he may consider in his search.
#1 Antonio Conte
Currently the biggest name manager out of a job, Antonio Conte would be the obvious choice to take the reins at Real Madrid. Conte has conquered Serie A and the Premier League, winning league titles at both Juventus and Chelsea. His favoured 3-4-3 formation could suit Los Blancos, given the presence of wing-backs like Marcelo, Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola, as well as so many attacking options. However, although Conte is available after leaving Chelsea, it is unknown whether he is ready to take up a new job as he is currently in a legal battle with his former employees. He also has a preference to return to Italy for his next job.
#2 Santiago Solari
If Real Madrid are looking to promote from within the system, ex-Argentina international and Blancos star Santiago Solari is a logical choice. Solari, 42, has been the coach of feeder team Castilla since 2016, with the side currently second in their Segunda Division B group. But it is the example of one of his Castilla predecessors that may aid his chances more than his budding talents on the bench. Like Solari, Zinedine Zidane had experience as head coach only with Madrid’s ‘B’ team, but that did not stop the Frenchman picking up three Champions League medals during his time in the job.
#3 Fernando Hierro
A Madrid legend and a former assistant coach at the club, Fernando Hierro lives and breathes Real and he would immediately be a fan favourite if he came back to the Spanish capital. Hierro took charge of Spain at the 2018 World Cup, but with only days to work with the squad before the finals began they were dumped out in the second round by Russia. The Spaniard has been linked with the Madrid job in the past but now might be the time for Florentino Perez to hand him the keys. Could Hierro replace Lopetegui for the second time this year?
#4 Joachim Low
Joachim Low has always been a name thrown around whenever the Real Madrid position has become available and it has never looked more likely to happen. Low endured an awful World Cup as Germany were dumped out in the first round. This poor form has continued in the Nations League after back-to-back losses to Netherlands and France, leaving the Germans bottom of their group. After 12 years in the job, suddenly he is at risk of the sack. Now may be the time for him to step down if Madrid come calling. The coach has shown time and time again that he is able to get the best out of Toni Kroos so teaming up with him at the Bernabeu may be of interest to both parties. A World Cup winner, Low is one of the biggest names that Madrid could bring in but he is relatively unproven at club level.
#5 Arsene Wenger
The former Arsenal boss has spoken time and again about how he turned down the biggest clubs in the world in order to stay loyal to Arsenal. The Frenchman finally is free to speak to who he wants to and Real Madrid would certainly interest him as he supported their golden team of the 1950s whilst growing up as a child. The Champions League is the one trophy that has always eluded Wenger, another reason why he would be interested given they have won three European Cups on the bounce. Wenger’s age and a poor end to his time at Arsenal could be a sticking point though. Now aged 68, Wenger may not be a viable option if Madrid want a manager who will be able to oversee the development of the next crop of players.
#6 Ralph Hasenhuttl
Ralph Hasenhuttl did a fantastic job at RB Leipzig and he could be a great candidate to take the reins at Real Madrid where he would likely look to bring with him his old star man, Timo Werner. The Austrian took his former club to second during their first season back in the Bundesliga in 2016-17, and then followed that up with a sixth-placed finish where he narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification. Hasenhuttl is yet to be tested at a top club but he has shown a great eye in the transfer market by bringing in numerous future stars from relative obscurity such as Naby Keita and Werner. With the immense budget he would be given at Madrid he could create an incredible squad.
#7 Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino has consistently been linked to the biggest jobs in the world over recent seasons and for good reason. The Argentine has transformed Spurs into one of the best and most attractive teams in England, all while on a shoestring budget. The lack of investment at Spurs will surely frustrate the Argentine and at Madrid he would have a huge amount to spend. The obvious move to make would be for his star man in north London, Harry Kane. Madrid have struggled to replace Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals and if Pochettino came in that would be an added incentive for the World Cup Golden Boot winner to make the move away from Tottenham. The Spurs boss has made it no secret that he would be interested in taking the job, telling the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial: “When Real Madrid call you, you have to listen to them.”
Appointing Guti as the Real Madrid manager would be a huge risk but it may well pay off. Zinedine Zidane was also a coach within the Madrid system before he got the senior job and Guti has plenty of experience in that field. The 41-year-old coached youth teams for five years before making the move to become the assistant manager of Besiktas this year. Guti managed Real Madrid’s youth side Juvenil A for two years where he was incredibly successful, winning the domestic treble during his first season. Like Fernando Hierro, Guti is a Real Madrid legend which counts for a lot in terms of respect from fans and players.
#9 Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta very nearly became Arsenal manager this summer and a move back to his home country may be in the works before long. Arteta has spent the last few years learning from Pep Guardiola at Man City and if he has picked anything up from him he could become an incredible manager one day. A move to Real Madrid would be going straight in at the deep end but Madrid do have a history of appointing inexperienced coaches such as Zinedine Zidane. As a student of Pep Guardiola, Arteta would likely promote an attacking possession-based style which would please Madrid’s very demanding fans. One sticking point, though, could be Arteta’s history as a player with Barcelona.
#10 Leonardo Jardim
It is rare for a manager to be sacked and then land a better job but that may be what happens with Leonardo Jardim. The Portuguese was dismissed by Monaco after a poor start to the season, but his achievements with the Monte Carlo-based club cannot be forgotten. He won the 2016-17 Ligue 1 title – while also reaching the Champions League semi-finals – developing a host of brilliant players such as Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy. His Monaco team was built around young talent and that could be beneficial to Real Madrid. Jesus Vallejo, Martin Odegaard and Vinicius Junior are all primed to make their mark on La Liga over the next few years and there may be no better manager to unlock their potential. With Real Madrid being one of the biggest and richest clubs in the world, Jardim would be free of worry about his key players being poached by bigger clubs.