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ZIDANE RESIGNS AS MADRID COACH

Zinedine Zidane has left Real Madrid after his second stint in charge, the La Liga club said in a statement. “Real Madrid CF announces that Zinedine Zidane has decided to end his current stage as coach of our club,”

“It is now time to respect his decision and show him our appreciation for his professionalism, dedication and passion all these years, and for what his figure represents for Real Madrid.

“Zidane is one of the great myths of Real Madrid and his legend goes beyond what he has been as a coach and player of our club. Real finished second in La Liga, two points behind Atletico, were knocked out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage by Chelsea and suffered a humiliating exit in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey to third division minnows Alcoyano.

It was a far cry from Zidane’s first three seasons at Real when he guided the club to a hat-trick of Champions League crowns, a La Liga title and two Club World Cups.

The World Cup winner stepped down after the last of those Champions League titles in 2018, saying the club needed a change, but returned in March 2019 on a three-year deal after the club sacked his two successors, Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari.

A second La Liga title followed in the Covid-19-affected 2019-20 season.

Former Juventus and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is likely to be in the frame to replace Zidane, having walks away from Inter Milan on Wednesday after leading the club to the Serie A title. Conte was a target of Real Madrid President Florentino Perez in 2018, according to media reports at the time. Club captain Sergio Ramos suggested, however, that a disciplinarian style might not go down too well at the Bernabeu.

Club great Raul Gonzalez, who is in charge of the club’s reserve side Real Madrid Castilla, is also a candidate for the job.

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