Zinedine Zidane reportedly leaving Real Madrid: Timeline, latest news

Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

By now, you have probably read rumors that Real Madrid could lose legendary manager Zinedine Zidane after the 2020-2021 season. But where did the rumors start? How likely is he to leave? And what’s the latest information.

We’ve got you covered with a full timeline of events. This post will be updated periodically with the latest news on Zidane’s future. But we won’t just give you the news with citations and links so you can view the context of the information as best as we can provide it. We’ll also give you insight on each news item to help get you thinking about the reliability and scope of these reports.

The latest news item is on top, with the earliest rumors at the bottom of the article. Each entry will be dated for your convenience.

Let’s get to it.

May 26: Zinedine Zidane is reportedly done with Real Madrid

According to a report from Fabrizio Romano, Zinedine Zidane is leaving Real Madrid.

Analysis: When Fab says it, it’s done, barring some sort of shocking turn of events. Madridistas should be very nervous about the future without Zizou.

May 24: Allegri to replace Zidane next week?

According to a report from Siro Lopez for COPE, Real Madrid will announce next week that Zinedine Zidane is stepping down, and Max Allegri will be his replacement.

Analysis: This mirrors the initial rumors that surfaced last week regarding Zidane’s status at Madrid and Allegri’s status as the top candidate to replace him. Allegri has the experience and pedigree, and he could do wonders with a young, hungry, rebuilding squad. But there will be some significant turnover if Allegri replaces Zidane, in addition to a certain element of risk. Again, nothing is official here, so we need to proceed with caution, even if COPE are viewed as one of the most reliable outlets in Spain.

May 23: Zinedine Zidane ‘very likely’ to go

According to a report from L’Equipe’s Frederic Hermel, Zinedine Zidane is close to leaving Real Madrid officially. He will meet with Florentino Perez in the “coming days” and is “very likely” to leave.

Analysis: It would make sense for Zidane to step away, especially if the club is indeed looking to rebuild. Zizou may not want to be a part of that project, and Real may not want him to head that project, depending on the opinions of the board. The meeting between Perez and Zidane will be telling, as far as both sides identifying if it’s better for Zizou to lead the rebuild or for everyone to move in a different direction.

May 21: Some optimism regarding Zidane’s decision

In a report for El Golazo de Gol, Sergio Quirante stated that the people closest to Zinedine Zidane believe that the French manager will decide to remain Real Madrid’s manager for the upcoming season, fulfilling the final year of his contract.

Analysis: We can’t read too much into the flip-flopping nature of reports taken as a whole, but Quirante is a reliable, plugged-in reporter in Spain. Those in Zidane’s circle could be wrong, but reports like these should help keep Madridistas from panicking when they do not have to.

May 21: The players state their case

According to a report from Tomas Gonzalez-Martin of ABC Deportes, it isn’t just the “old guard” that won three straight Champions League titles with Zizou who want the manager to stay. Young players like Rodrygo Goes, Vinicius Junior, Eder Militao Fede Valverde, and Alvaro Odriozola, despite not having the managers trust for much of the season, want Zidane.

Analysis: Again, there’s no surprise here if this is the case. Contrary to what some will have you think, Zidane has actually been good for the young players at Madrid. He’s given them opportunities. Even Militao and Odriozola, who were not favored to start the season, have been given chances and have proven themselves (Militao moreso than Odri). Zidane protects the players and knows their situations. Young and old, they respect their manager.

May 20: Conflicting reports on when Zinedine Zidane will inform Florentino Perez

According to a report from Marco Ruiz of AS, Florentino Perez and Zinedine Zidane will have a meeting next week after the title-deciding fixtures this weekend. And in this meeting, the Real Madrid manager will tell the club president his decision. However, Libertad Digital’s Sergio Valentin reports that Zidane will tell Perez his decision by Friday so that the president knows if he needs to find a new manager BEFORE the title-deciding match against Villarreal.

Analysis: Since Max Allegri, who is the leading candidate for the job (as reiterated by the AS report above), appears to be in no rush to decide, Real Madrid don’t necessarily need a response from Zizou before Matchday 38. And because Zidane and the players denied any decision being made during the title race, it wouldn’t make much sense for this to be a topic of discussion before such a big match. Yet maybe Perez really does want to know privately and will keep the information close to the vest until after the league campaign is over.

May 18: Real Madrid’s stance on the situation

Appearing on El Larguero, reporter Javi Herraez stated that Real Madrid want Zinedine Zidane to stay and will even have a meeting with him to discuss possible signings and renewals.

Analysis: I mean, obviously Real Madrid would want a man who led them to a title in 2019-2020 after a disastrous 2018-2019 and has kept them competitive in the Champions League and LaLiga this season despite so many issues to stay! And I’m sure the names “Kylian Mbappe” and “Sergio Ramos” came up in that meeting about transfer decisions…

May 17: So what are the chances of Zidane leaving?

On El Chiringuito, Josep Pedrerol stated that people within Real Madrid believe there is a 55 percent chance the French manager stays with the club.

Analysis: I hate these percentage gimmicks (Juventus reporter Luca Momblano is famous for them), because they are very difficult to verify. But the Pedrerol, despite being hit-or-miss and more an entertainer than beat reporter, the statement is a reminder to Madridistas that Zidane could very well stay. Nothing is decided.

May: 16 Zinedine Zidane, Nacho Fernandez deny reports

Amidst these swirling rumors, Real Madrid got the job done in their trickiest fixture in the title race, defeating Athletic Club 1-0 at San Mames. Goal-scorer Nacho Fernandez rubbished the rumors of Zizou leaving during the post-match press conference. And then Zidane himself denied the rumors that he told the dressing room he would leave. COPE’s Arancha Rodriguez, who may have the best track record of any reporter, stated that no such meeting took place and that Zizou could still decide to stay.

Analysis: A public rejection of reporting from three major Madrid-based reporters is a huge deal, and it was enough to calm Madridistas somewhat but still leave them in a state of uncertainty. There are a few fans who believe this is a concerted effort from the media to undermine Zidane during the title race. It’s possible all of them were fed false info, it’s possible Zidane and Nacho want to keep things a secret, or it’s possible the truth lies somewhere between what happened and what was reported.

May 15: Then the reliable outlets weigh in

First, Onda Cero’s Fernando Burgos reported that Zinedine Zidane told his players he would step down at the end of the season. Then, both Goal.com’s Mario Cortegana and MARCA’s Jose Felix Diaz confirmed the report.

Analysis: Wow. It was one thing for Telemadrid to report Zidane’s departure. But then to hear this from three of Real’s most reliable reporters? That’s something else entirely. Jose Felix Diaz reports a lot of information he receives directly from the club, so it was especially noteworthy to see written confirmation from him. At this point, Madridistas were full-blown worried.

May 14: An early report that Zinedine Zidane would step down

About a week later on May 14, Telemadrid dropped a bombshell report that Zinedine Zidane would step down at the end of the 2020-2021 season.

Analysis: This was the first report stating that Zidane would leave. Telemadrid is not known as a reliable source, so Madridistas did not jump at this report. But it did get people talking and make fans nervous about a potential future without Zizou guiding the ship with his steady hand.

Next. Ranking Real Madrid's best managers of all time. dark

May 6: The first signs Zinedine Zidane could leave Real Madrid

On May 6, Goal.com’s Mario Cortegana reported that Zinedine Zidane could step down at the end of the season. Cortegana said this was a belief held by many in the locker room, as Zidane had grown weary of a difficult season, the stress of following the COVID protocols, and the pressure and criticism that come with the job.

Analysis: Before Telemadrid and then the reports of a locker room meeting, this was the first sign Zinedine Zidane could actually leave Real Madrid. And nobody could blame him if that ends up being his decision. We saw this season how stressful it is to run Real, but especially so during the pandemic. The injuries, absences, and constant fixtures have taken their toll. And Zidane has faced a lot of disrespect despite navigating a team that made no new signings through this tough season. We talk a lot about footballers being burned out, but managers are, too.