After a lacklustre start to the 2018-19 LaLiga season, Spanish giant Real Madrid sacked Julen Lopetegui as manager just after four and a half months on Monday. The humiliating defeat to arch-rivals Barcelona on Sunday in the El Classico was convincing enough for club president Florentino Perez to show the exit door to Lopetegui, who had succeeded Zinedine Zidane in June.
Real Madrid's B team Castilla coach Santiago Solari had 'provisionally replaced' Lopetegui. However, the club is now in need of a permanent manager who can steer the club out of ruts. The new man has a herculean task at Santiago Bernabeu as Los Blancos now is just six points above the relegation places, and seven points behind leaders Barcelona.
Who will be Real Madrid's next manager? The club is currently working on to address this while rumours indicate there are five well-known faces in the race.
The one name that popped out instantly after the sacking of Lopetegui was Antonio Conte. The former Chelsea boss has been out of a job since July after parting ways with the Blues. Real Madrid hierarchy reportedly has already contacted Conte and the Italian is willing to take up the job with certain conditions.
Conte needs no introduction. He took charge of Chelsea in 2015 when the club was bad in shape. He went on to win the Premier League in his first year and FA Cup champion in the next year. Considering the mess currently Real Madrid is in, Conte seems to be the ideal person for the job.
However, Real Madrid senior players have reportedly made their opposition to the Italian's appointment over his style of coaching. This seems to be a bottleneck for Perez to appoint Conte as next Real Madrid manager.
The rumours about Tottenham Hotspur coach Mauricio Pochettino and Real Madrid coach position was always there even before Zidane stepped down in June. However, the Argentine signed a new five-year contract with the English club in May leaving the rumours a rest. It looks like Perez may again try to poach Pochettino as there are very fewer options for the managerial job.
The new deal with Tottenham Hotspur means pursuit for Pochettino will be complicated and expensive for Real Madrid and it looks like Perez is determined to make a move. Pochettino was also unhappy with Hotspur's inaction during the summer transfer window and new stadium delays. These may prompt Pochettino to go for a greener pasture at Spain.
Despite all the high-profile stars, Belgium's dream third-place finish at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was crafted by their coach Roberto Martinez. The Spaniard was sacked by Everton in May 2016 with the club 12th in the Premier League. However, Martinez's redemption as Belgium manager is now convincing enough for the vacant Real Madrid job.
He has the experience of managing top-rated players such as Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku. This will help him to cope with the star-studded Real Madrid team. He is also a Spaniard and that adds his qualification for the Los Blancos job.
The chances of current Manchester United manager going to Madrid may look grim at present while multiple reports claim it cannot be written off. Perez is a huge fan of Jose Mourinho and that may see the Portuguese coach coming to Madrid for a second spell despite a controversial exit five years ago. It also needs to be noted that Mourinho is not having a great time at Old Trafford at present and it may prompt him to ponder over the potential Madrid seat.
If that is the case, Perez is expected to allow Santiago Solari till the January transfers window and then convince Mourino to take up the job. Real Madrid hierarchy may sweeten the deal for Mourino by bringing Eden Hazard from Chelsea in January.
Arsenal's greatest ever manager in this list may sound strange but The National reports the veteran coach is also in the race. Arsene Wenger has long been a target of Real Madrid since his peak Arsenal years. He has been out of work since leaving the London club after 22 years in the summer and had expressed his desire to get back coaching.
His reputation being a no-nonsense coach would garner immediate respect from the dressing room. To wipe off the negative vibe in the Bernabeu, Perez may contact Wenger and his trademark attacking football would be welcomed by both players and fans.