Many Real Madrid fans may have sat up to take notice at the news this week that Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp will leave the German side at the end of the season after seven largely successful years.
The 44-year-old is one of the most highly-rated managers in world football at the moment, and his decision to leave the 2013 Champions League finalists will prompt Europe’s bigger clubs to decide whether to stick with their current bosses or make a move for the German.
On the surface, none of Europe’s giants will be looking for a new manager in the summer. Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal are all highly unlikely to get rid of their current managers. That leaves Manchester City as the only other leading club in the Premier League – Klopp’s preferred destination – as a possibility in England. Manuel Pellegrini is walking on very thin ice, but Klopp has stated in the past that he doesn’t agree with the big-spending philosophy at the club, and the CItizens have gone on record saying they have ‘no interest’ in him.
As well as it being a hugely controversial move, a switch to Bayern Munich is unlikely to happen as the Bavarians are happy with the work being done by Pep Guardiola. And a move to Italy or France seems unlikely for Klopp.
One other major European league remains then. La Liga. Luis Enrique has guided his team to 20 win in the past 22 games and has Barcelona back to their best form after a slow start to the campaign by their standards. Diego Simeone has just signed a new deal with Atletico until 2020.
Just Real Madrid remain then in Europe’s elite. Could Klopp be Bernabeu bound?
Less than 12 months after guiding the club to La Decima, rumours have surfaced about Carlo Ancelotti’s future. He won four trophies in the first 14 months of his reign, and earlier this season oversaw a 22-game winning run. But the team’s poor form since the turn of the year in which they were eliminated from the Copa del Rey, let go of their lead in La Liga, and were comfortably beaten by Atletico and Barcelona in the league have prompted doubts about the Italian’s future with Los Blancos.
When asked about plans for next season, neither Ancelotti or president Florentino Perez have been convincing that the former AC Milan, PSG and Chelsea boss will be in the dugout. The Real job is notoriously tough – the eight managers prior to Jose Mourinho all lasted less than 18 months – and with criticism growing in the media, and a fickle fanbase, Ancelotti may decide enough is enough.
Madrid seemingly had in place a smooth transition though for Ancelotti’s eventually departure. Zinedine Zidane would step up.
The Frenchman, a favourite of Perez, was parachuted into the assistant role last season to work alongside Ancelotti. And with Real Madrid Castilla having been relegated from Segunda B to the Tercera, Perez gave him the relatively straightforward task of getting Madrid’s reserve team promoted at the first time of asking. He even risked the wrath of the authorities as Zidane didn’t hold the correct coaching badges, according to the Spanish FA.
But a slow start to the campaign and a poor run recently have left the side eight points adrift of the league leaders and down in fifth place. It’s not been the most convincing start to a managerial reign for the former mercurial attacking midfielder.
Should the club fail to win the Champions League or La Liga, Ancelotti’s position will come under even great scrutiny. That, combined with Zidane’s inauspicious start to managerial life, could make Perez asses his options. And turn his attention to Klopp…