I like Real Madrid’s decision to choose Carlo Ancelotti to replace a legend like Zinedine Zidane for two reasons. Firstly, because it seems consistent with what Real Madrid want and, secondly, because I like Ancelotti.
And what do they want at Madrid? Well, to carry out a renovation of the squad, which is not the same as bringing in a coach to renew the squad. Carlo knows what’s coming: he has been entrusted to train those who are given to him, to prioritise youngsters and to not cause any problems.
Because the sparing use of young players by Zidane became a problem between the French coach and the club during the last season. It was a problem that became entrenched until it rotted in a sour and ugly ending, unworthy of a club like Real Madrid and a legend like Zidane, but unfortunately common in Florentino Perez‘s leadership.
To avoid a repeat of the conflict, the club will give Ancelotti whatever they can within their economic boundaries. Veterans who have long been past their best like Gareth Bale, Isco and Marcelo do not feature in the club’s plans, and getting the trio off the books would save the club 65 million euros. Sergio Ramos is also looking unlikely to stay and, if Varane does not want to renew, they will try to sell him as well.
Of the youngsters, Mariano Diaz, Luka Jovic, Borja Mayoral and Jesus Vallejo are all up for sale and the club are hopeful of getting some good money for them. In these less important matters, Ancelotti will have a voice and a vote will decide it, but the main lines have already been drawn by the sporting management side of the club. The strategic line is a matter for the club and the line-ups a matter for Ancelotti, even more so in the age of the pandemic where all decisions have an important economic derivative.
Martin Odegaard is back and he hopes to become an important player for Los Blancos, not to repeat last season’s episode. It is not about Luka Modric and Toni Kroos disappearing from the line-up, far from it, but the club wants to push forward players like the Norwegian, like Fede Valverde or like Eder Militao – young players who went unnoticed until they were the only available resource. What certainly cannot be repeated are cases like that of Marcos Llorente.
Six years after leaving, Ancelotti is back and his job role is clearer than ever.