It was a huge shock when the French World Cup winner turned his back on the club where he had enjoyed such success as a player and manager, especially in the afterglow of the Champions League triumph over Liverpool.
To say the Spanish giants have struggled to replace him is an understatement. Julen Lopetegui was recruited as Zidane's successor just before the World Cup but his reign was to prove short-lived. Then it was the turn of reserve coach Santiago Solari who failed to sustain an initial bounce and as well as seeing his side trail in the slipstream of Barcelona at the top of La Liga (currently the gap is 12 points), also suffered the embarrassment of a Champions League exit against Ajax. Real led 2-1 after the first leg in Amsterdam yet were humbled 4-1 in Madrid.
Solari looked like he might hold on to his job until the end of the season and Jose Mourinho talked lovingly about his former club, sparking suggestions that he could be in line for a second stint at the club. Mourinho, out of work since being sacked by Manchester United in December, took every chance he could to put himself in the shop window but his PR offensive looks to have been in vain. Instead, it's Zidane - for so long talked about as a long-term replacement for Mourinho at Old Trafford - who will attempt to disprove the old adage that you should never go back.
It would appear that the Real Madrid hierarchy - chiefly president Florentino Perez - have faith in Zidane to take control of the club's summer transfer policy though last summer that looked to be one of the reasons that he left. If Zidane has received assurances about control in the summer transfer window, we can expect a move for Chelsea's Eden Hazard, a player the French coach has targeted in the past. He will need to completely overhaul a squad which has never recovered from the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.
Zidane will also have to decide on what happens to Gareth Bale, the Welsh international who looks to be on the outer at Real these days. The pair were known to not get on so Bale may well be eyeing his next move. Some other lynchpins of the Real team are coming to the end of their career like Sergio Ramos.
Unlike other potential candidates for the Real job such as Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham Hotspur, Zidane will not be fazed by the demands of Perez and would seem to be holding all the aces after being tempted back. He is being trusted with the job of overhauling a team he helped to build and the club's dismal record since he left will buy him that commodity not normally offered to new managers - time.
@GuillemBalague reckons the King is returning to Real Madrid...
Zinedine Zidane is Bernabeu-bound and set to be given a blank cheque book 💰
Who'll be top of the shopping list? 🤔