Carlo Ancelotti has only been in the job a matter of days, but he is already facing important decisions over the make-up of his Real Madrid squad.
The Italian manager – who left Everton for Los Blancos this week – has inherited a number of stars who failed to see eye to eye with their former boss, Zinedine Zidane.
The Frenchman’s solution to disagreements or a lack of form was often to send out players on loan, and he was not afraid to say it when someone was not in his plans.
Ancelotti takes a more conciliatory approach, and his appointment could provide a number of players with the chance to return to the frame.
That being said, the AC Milan hero has also made up his mind about some stars’ futures, according to reports in Spain.
Here, Mirror Football takes a look at Ancelotti’s stance on his five most high-profile returning loan players.
Martin Odegaard showed glimpses of brilliance during his short-term loan at Arsenal before his performances tailed off during the run-in.
But that has not changed Real Madrid’s stance on keeping the playmaker, with the club intent on him staying for the long term, according to Spanish outlet Diario AS .
Carlo Ancelotti was manager of Los Blancos when Odegaard was signed in January 2015, and he shares Zinedine Zidane’s view that the Norwegian is the future of his side’s midfield.
The 22-year-old still has work to do on the pitch to prove he can live up to his billing after grabbing just two goals and two assists in 20 Arsenal appearances, following an ineffectual first half of the season in the Spanish capital.
But Odegaard will hope to rekindle a better relationship with Ancelotti than he had with Zidane to prove why he is considered untransferable.
Staying with former Arsenal loanees, Dani Ceballos’ future is less clear than that of his ex-Emirates colleague Martin Odegaard.
The Spanish midfielder spent two so-so seasons on loan with the Gunners, but they are not expected to table a bid to sign him permanently.
That would have come as a major blow to Ceballos a matter of days ago, as it appeared he had no future at Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane. With the Frenchman at the helm, the club were reportedly looking to offload the midfielder permanently with a buy-back clause, just as they did when selling Sergio Reguilon to Tottenham last year.
However, crucially, Ceballos may be handed a Los Blancos lifeline by Carlo Ancelotti, who is believed to have made note of the lack of attacking central midfielders in his squad.
Brahim Diaz joined Real Madrid from Manchester City in January 2019 but has only scored two goals in 21 appearances for Los Blancos.
The attacking midfielder is yet to find his form in his native Spain, but impressed on loan at AC Milan this season, scoring seven goals and laying on four assists.
Diaz’s best performance of the season came against Juventus last month as he opened the scoring with a fantastic goal in a 3-0 victory in Turin.
While Milan would like to keep the 21-year-old, they do not have the option to make the loan a permanent transfer.
Real Madrid, for their part, are reluctant to lose a promising talent and Carlo Ancelotti will assess him during pre-season, according to Marca .
Luka Jovic arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2019 for an eye-watering fee in excess of £50million after a stunning 27-goal season with Eintracht Frankfurt.
But he did not bring his goalscoring form with him from Germany to Spain and managed a meagre tally of two goals in his first season with Real Madrid.
Goalless in five Los Blancos appearances this campaign, Jovic returned to Eintracht on loan in January and there was some improvement in his form. The Bundesliga club are keen to sign him permanently with funds they could raise by selling star striker Andre Silva.
But, as is the case with Brahim Diaz, Ancelotti will weigh up Jovic’s strengths this summer before making a final decision.
Last but obviously not least is Gareth Bale, who spent an up-and-down season on loan with former club Tottenham Hotspur.
The Welshman has been hugely enigmatic about his future in recent weeks, simply declaring his next move is already decided and will “cause chaos”.
Bale’s remarks have even led to speculation he could retire at the age of 31, but Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment may cause a change of heart with one year remaining on his contract at Real Madrid.
The winger seemed to have no future under Zinedine Zidane, which could have paved the way for another spell with Spurs.
But Ancelotti’s appointment appears to have altered things drastically, and the Italian said earlier this week: “If he is motivated he can have a great season.”
Real Madrid still harbour concerns over his injury record but, at present, a final season at the Santiago Bernabeu is on the cards for Bale.