Zinedine Zidane just announced his resignation as manager of Real Madrid, just five days after winning his third consecutive Champions League Title.
That’s okay, you’re allowed to be shocked. I was too; at least initially.
Zidane, 45, took over Los Blancos in 2016, and won 104 out of 149 games managed within that time frame. He became the first manager in history to win three successive Champions League titles, and within that time had to manage some of the biggest names in the sport.
Within that time frame, and particularly in February of this year, Zidane said that he would leave the club if he felt “there was nothing more to give.”
I always respect the hell out of athletes and coaches who are able to recognize and walk away from the sport when they’re on top.
Zidane has done just that, in my opinion, with his departure from Real Madrid. And while I do think everyone’s outrage is understandable given the abruptness of him leaving, he leaves a legacy.
A legacy that he might have been the last coach in the dynasty. Ronaldo and Bale both casted doubt after their victory against Liverpool, that they might not be at the club next season. Zidane leaving might be a catalyst there. If that happens then Real will have some big things to change.
One thing they’ve been able to prove in the last few seasons is timelessness. Reals starting XI’s average age was 29. That’s an aging team who has thus far been able to stand the test of time, with Ronaldo, 33, Ramos, 32, Modric, 32, Keylor Navas, 31, and even Marcelo, 30, all seemingly not skipping a beat. But that will run out, and those are some legendary names to have to replace in a couple years.
I mentioned a while back that I think Real is hitting a tipping point. Even though they won this years’ UCL final, they just managed to make it there. Not taking anything away because a title is a title, and they’re the most clutch team this century. But take some time one day, and watch some clips of Ronaldo from the early 2010’s and compare him to the last season, and you’ll notice his play has evolved to run less and become more of a target/marksman. Again nothing wrong with that, at All, because he’s a top-3 player in the world still, it is just that his changing style is indicative of his athleticism and body aging.
I won’t go too far into that, or exploring that, but I’m going to go off of that theory that they’re aging, and might be reaching a tipping point. My point here is that Zidane might have had one last stroke of genius by leaving Real when he did. He accomplished pretty much everything with them, it’s time for new challenges. Where that lies remains to be seen.
But what I offer is the prospect of Madrid’s summer this offseason becoming a potentially extremely important one that will shape the dynasty for years to come.
First step is finding that new manager. I won’t be giving you speculations, but just know whoever it is (I’ve even heard theories that Ronaldo is retiring to become manager), will have their hands full for the next year or so.