Spanish media on Tuesday hailed Zinedine Zidane’s surprising restoration as Real Madrid coach as the “return of the hero” and said the “saviour” was also the “last shot” of the struggling European champions.
Real president Florentino Perez “had pulled from his hat a rabbit called Zinedine Zidane,” wrote Barcelona daily Mundo Deportivo.
Another Barcelona-based daily, Sport, said “Zizou” is “the saviour” who is also Real’s “last shot to survive their crisis.”
In Madrid, sports daily Marca wrote: “He is back and his priority is to rescue and revitalise a struggling squad that has been on a downward spiral ever since his departure on May 31, 2018.”
The 46-year-old Zidane replaced Santiago Solari on Monday and signed a contract until 2022, with the club eliminated from the Champions League, a trophy it won three times under Zidane, and the Spanish Cup and a distant third in La Liga.
“Zidane was the standout favourite for Florentino Perez and the Real Madrid president was willing to do whatever it took to get him back on side,” continued Marca. “It seems it only required two conversations to twist his arm.”
AS, a Madrid-based paper, quoted Zidane as saying: “I could not say no.”
“The incoming boss has also been assured that he will be fully in charge of every aspect of the running of the team, including signings,” wrote AS, pointing out that this was “unprecedented power” for a Real coach.
“Zinedine Zidane’s return as Real Madrid coach banishes the spectre of Jose Mourinho, who a jittery Florentino Perez had been toying with bringing back,” wrote Alfredo Rebeno in AS, adding that Zidane “brings a crucial measure of peace to the Bernabeu.”
Rebeno also said the problems at Real stemmed not from the departure of Zidane last summer but the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo.
“(Zidane) worked wonders in his first stint with ‘Los Blancos’ and now, 284 days later he is back where it all started for him back in 2001 and everyone connected with the club will be hoping that his second spell in charge will be just as fruitful as his first,” wrote Marca.
– ‘Three superstar signings’ –
News of Real’s coup and photos of Zidane also covered the front pages of general newspapers in Spain.
“Zidane is back at Real Madrid with carte blanche to renew the squad,” wrote El Pais saying the Frenchman’s task was to “lift a team that are living their darkest hours.”
The Spanish media quickly started speculating which players Zidane wanted to keep, which ones might be on the way out and who he might ask Perez to buy.
AS said Zidane had been promised “three superstar signings.”
Marca wrote that “the squad will play for their future,” adding that Spain midfielder Dani Ceballos, who had criticised Zidane, might be in trouble and asked readers who was the biggest loser, with a list that included Ceballos, Gareth Bale and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Sport reported that when asked if he wanted Kylian Mbappe or Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, Perez laughed and said: “Zidane is French so he could do something with Mbappe.”
Sport listed Mbappe as one of the four top targets. The other three are Eden Hazard of Chelsea, who they said Real had already agreed a firm option on, Paul Pogba of Manchester United and Sadio Mane of Liverpool. Christian Eriksen of Tottenham was another name cited by some papers.