Zinedine Zidane sent shock-waves around the footballing world yesterday, stepping down as Real Madrid manager after almost three years in charge. Having won almost every competition he entered, Zidane felt he could no longer guarantee success and acknowledged that the squad needed a transitional period - one which he felt he could not oversee.

The news shocked club president Florentino Perez, who was visibly distraught throughout the legendary Frenchman's final press conference.

With Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino being touted as the early favourite, we take a look at three alternative candidates Perez could turn to if a move for the Argentinian does not materialise.


Already a Los Blancos legend, having spent 15 years as part of the first team, winning three Champions League titles, five La Liga titles and four Spanish Super-Cups, the former attacking midfielder certainly knows what it takes to succeed in the Spanish Capital. While he may not have the same aura as Zidane - few people do - he would command instant respect due to all he has achieved with the club.

Currently coach of Real Madrid's Juvenil A team, Guti has won a treble of the Champions Cup, League Title and Copa Del Rey, as well as making the semi-final of the UEFA Youth League, displaying a clear ability to lead a team to success. His style of play has also not gone unnoticed by the Los Merengues hierarchy, favouring a positional style that allows his teams to build out from the back playing short passes.

All this while creating space out wide for his wingers to isolate opposition fullbacks.

Tactically flexible, Guti has shown no hesitation in altering his formations in order to get the best out of certain players in his squad. Employing such a midfield-heavy system would almost certainly allow players like Isco, Kovacic, Ceballos and to a certain extent, Kroos, to truly flourish and reach their fullest potential - which is surely an attractive prospect for Perez.

Having never managed a senior team before, however, perhaps it would be best to allow Guti to cut his teeth at a lower level of senior management before throwing him into the Mariana's Trench of footballing hot-seats.

The Los Blancos legend has today been bizarrely linked to the vacant position at St Mirren, who have recently re-gained promotion to the SPFL following a year in the Scottish Championship, per the BBC.

Julen Lopetegui

The current manager of the Spanish national team is an interesting name that has popped up a few times. He has undoubtedly been successful as a manager, winning the under-19 and under-21 European Championships with Spain, before taking on the Porto job. Lopetegui's time in Portugal was somewhat of a mixed bag, qualifying for the quarter-final of the Champions League before being blown away 6-1 by Bayern Munich, Porto finished the season trophy-less, and Lopetegui was relieved of his duties not long into his second season in charge. Lopetegui seems more suited to international management than the day to day pressures of club management though and is unlikely to be contacted by Florentino Perez.

Maurizio Sarri

The Italian has made waves across Europe for the brand of Football he has employed during his three-year tenure at Napoli. He plays a very similar style to Pep Guardiola - even drawing enormous praise from the man himself. Reaching the last 16 of the Champions League last season, losing out to eventual champions Real Madrid, as well as finishing in the top three in every season under Sarri's management, Napoli has undoubtedly vastly improved under his guidance. This season, Napoli became the first side in Serie A (now Calcio A) history to amass over 90 points and not win the Scudetto.

The outspoken Italian though is never far from controversy.

In January 2016, he was fined 20,000 euros and banned for two Coppa Italia matches for barking a homophobic slur at then Inter boss Roberto Mancini.

in March 2018, he was forced to apologise for a sexist remark made to a female reporter in the wake of a draw with Inter.

This lack of diplomatic nous is likely to be a huge stumbling block for a club with the stature of Real Madrid.