Zinedine Zidane said he never had any doubts about returning to Real Madrid after he replaced the sacked Santiago Solari as coach on Monday.
“When the president called me the first thing I thought was: go,” Zidane said at a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu. “I could not say no, I never had any doubts about going back.”
Zidane has been given a contract until June 2022, just nine months after he resigned at the end of last season, having led Madrid to an historic third consecutive Champions League triumph.
Solari’s dismissal was expected after three consecutive home defeats – to Barcelona, twice, and Ajax – deemed Madrid’s season all-but over before the middle of March.
But Zidane coming back, with only 11 games left in La Liga and almost nothing to play for, is a surprise, particularly after he left on the incredible high of yet another European triumph.
“I left because a change was needed at the end of last season, for the good of everyone, after winning so much,” Zidane said.
“I returned because the president called me. I love him and I love this club, so here I am.”
Zidane inherits a squad that has evolved even in the short time he has been away, with Cristiano Ronaldo gone and the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Vinicius Junior and Sergio Reguilon all enjoying greater prominence this season.
The challenge will be for Zidane to oversee a period of change in the summer, when older players could be replaced and younger talents brought through.
“I do not want to forget what we won but I also do not forget all the things we did badly last year,” Zidane said.
“We lost in the league and cup, we won the Champions League, fine, but I know where I am.
“We will change things, for sure, for the years to come. But now is not about that – the important thing is I am back. We will have time to talk with the president, with the club, about what we can do.”
Meanwhile, Gareth Bale plans to “wait and see” how things go with Zinedine Zidane’s return to the Bernabeu before deciding on his long term future, his agent Jonathan Barnett has said.
The relationship between Bale and Zidane deteriorated during towards the end of last season, with the Frenchman leaving the club in the summer. Bale scored a stunning overhead kick goal in the Zidane’s final match in charge as Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in the Champions League final to clinch a third successive title.
In the postmatch interview, he said he would “seriously consider” his future due to a lack of playing time. But he was persuaded to stay when Julen Lopetegui came in as replacement for Zidane — with Cristiano Ronaldo also leaving in the summer, to join Juventus.
Lopetegui was sacked in October and replaced by Santiago Solari but, despite the season getting progressively worse, Barnett told ESPN FC that Bale’s relationship with both the Argentine and president Florentino Perez remained strong.
However, Zidane’s return has changed matters and Barnett said Bale’s future would depend on where Zidane and Perez decide to go from here.
At his unveiling on Monday, Zidane spoke of “changes” this summer, while Perez hinted at possibly pursuing a deal for Paris Saint Germain pair Kylian Mbappe and Neymar this summer.
Bale has scored 101 goals in 223 games since joining Madrid in summer 2013, winning 14 trophies including four Champions League titles.
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