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Why Zinedine Zidane Left Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane walked behind the limelight following his “training period” with Carlo Ancelotti in the 2014 to 2015 season, An excited Zidane looking towards a team who had just beaten Guardiola’s Bayern Munich and Simone’s title-winning Atletico to win the historic 10th Champions League in 2014. Zidane performed as an assistant coach for Ancelotti and looked like someone eager to take charge of this team.


why did zidane leave real madrid?

Then came the abysmal season of 2015 where Real Madrid failed to win any of one trophy (La Liga, Copa Del Rey, Champions League), while they watched their rival team Barcelona lift their historic 5th Champions League trophy. All things were set to be perfect for Barcelona as they had acquired Luis Suarez that summer from Liverpool and bagged in the treble. 


Real Madrid's board was quick to hire the services of Rafa Benitez, much to the disappointment of Zidane was the “Champions League winner of Istanbul”, however, the squad soon fell out of favour with him and Florentino ultimately sacked him after a 4-0 thrashing from Barcelona in the Bernabeu. 


Real Madrid took the gamble and A very excited Zinedine Zidane took charge of the team that season with their motive and target being La Liga and Champions League, there were many doubts in this 2016 Real team as major players like Casemiro, Kroos, and Rodriguez all were trying to prove themselves. Clearing all doubts Real Madrid went on to win the Champions League that season, historically winning it “three times in a row” the famous “three-peat”, however after this success came in drama Zidane announced through a press conference that he would be leaving Real Madrid after 3 whole seasons. 


It shocked the footballing world as the coach had just won the Champions League consecutively three times with a team that could win even more, so why would Zidane take this step of leaving the team as a whole?


Zidane's First Departure in 2018


“All glitters that shine are not gold”.This proverb fits the Real Madrid team of 2018, Many know this team because they had ‘three-peated” the Champions League” but everything was not okay at Real Madrid. Halfway through 2017, Zidane had a major fallout with one of the major stars of the team, Gareth Bale. The Welsh star endured a hellish later-half season at Real falling out with Zidane and their fans because of his constant injury problems and off-field “golf antics” during his injured time, eventually, Isco started ahead of him in that right-flank and Isco did pretty well with Real Madrid in 2017, but Bale was one of the most expensive investments from Real Madrid in the recent years and Perez wanted to make use of him.


Secondly, Zidane also had major clashes with James Rodrigues with Columbian eventually left for a loan spell to Bayern Munich which annoyed Perez as it was Perez who brought James to Real Madrid after that wonderful World Cup season with Columbia. 


Players like Karim Benzema who at that time could miss sitters at crucial games were favoured more than the Spanish boy Alvaro Morata, there was a time when Real Madrid was fed-up with Karim Benzema that they wanted a permanent transfer for the Frenchman elsewhere. But Zidane seemed to be unbothered by this dilemma and continued playing Benzema throughout the season much to the dismay of the fans. 


The final straw that made Zidane leave Real Madrid might be because Cristiano was leaving too after that historic 2018 season, Ronaldo had a major dispute with Florentino Perez over his salary and “tax evasion case that was going on against him in Spanish court”. Ronaldo felt unsupported by the “Real Madrid board” in this matter. Eventually, Zidane advised Perez to keep Ronaldo and sell Gareth Bale but the president did the exact opposite, he decided to sell Ronaldo and keep Gareth Bale, also because Gareth Bale managed to score a spectacular overhead bicycle kick against Liverpool in the final. Perez believed in Gareth Bale but Zidane didn’t. This all reason accumulated to become major reasons for Zidane to leave Real Madrid at the end of the 2018 season. 


Zidane's Second Departure in 2021

Zidane came back as a manager back in 2020 following the dismissal of Lopetgui and Santiago Solari. They both failed to steer Real Madrid in the right direction after the departure of Ronaldo and Zidane.


Real Madrid could not even have qualified for the Champions League however Solari managed to get the team 4th on the League table 20 points off Barcelona, whereas their bitter rival Barcelona with determined Messi was on the verge of winning the treble if it was not for Liverpool in 2019/2020 season. Zidane came to look after this broken Real Madrid team. He managed to finish 4th in the La Liga table, Real Madrid's lowest league rankings in a decade. He ultimately won the La Liga in 2020 against mighty Barcelona a year later.


Even after doing so much for this team Zidane was doubted and criticised again leading him to leave Real Madrid again.


Zidane's second exit in May 2021 was under different circumstances. This time, Real Madrid was coming off a trophyless season, their first since 2009-10. The club faced numerous challenges, including over 60 injuries throughout the season, which impacted their performance in La Liga and the Champions League 


This time too several key reasons contributed to Zidane's second departure in 2021 - 


1. Eden Hazard: 

Florentino Perez was a livid fan and an admirer of Neymar, he wanted to sign the PSG superstar since his time in Santos but couldn’t because Barca managed to hijack the deal from Real Madrid.


This time he had an opportunity as he joined PSG very recently at a world record fee of $222 million, After 2 years with PSG and failing to win the Champions League Neymar seemed to be frustrated and rumours began of him wanting to join Real Madrid, but Zidane had different plans, Zidane wanted Eden Hazard from Chelsea, the Belgian was Frenchman’s long-time target and he was obsessed with the Belgian superstar. Perez gave in to the demand of Zidane and bought Hazard from Chelsea for $100 million, Hazard came to Real Madrid after winning the Europa League with Chelsea against Arsenal in 2019.


Zidane got his wish in Hazard, but Hazard turned out to become one of the worst signings of Real Madrid. With the fitness issue and the famous “burger meme” coming out Hazard looks out of shape and completely lost with Real Madrid.


He faced a severe injury crisis which frustrated fans and Perez alike, no doubt Hazard was a marquee signing and being a marquee signed Hazard was expensive he was earning close to $600k per week at Real Madrid, with all Covid-19 restrictions and financial turmoil, Hazard turned out to become a liability for Real Madrid.


All this blame was however shifted to Zidane as he was the one to choose Hazard, making him doubtful before the board. 


Exhaustion and Media Scrutiny


Zidane himself mentioned that he and the team needed a change. The intense demands of managing a top club like Real Madrid, combined with the pressures of maintaining high-performance levels, contributed to his decision. He stated that it was time for someone else to take on the challenge and bring new ideas to the team. Under Zidane, Real Madrid played defensively and Attacked on the counter, Real Madrid even played with a defensive mentality against teams like Getafe and Betis this was not all eye-pleasing to the fans, Fans accused Real Madrid of winning with only one-goal difference.


If you look Real Madrid won most of the matches with a 1-2 scoreline, fans wanted the team to play attacking dominating the whole play and taking control, scoring tons of goals against the opposition, The media roasted and questioned Zidane day in and out to Zidane about his tactics. 


Not Enough Credit and Respect

Real Madrid never gave the respect Zidane deserved, Zidane took charge of the team back in 2020 that was exhausted, unorganised, and young. Zidane came in and managed to win La Liga in his return season, but he did miss out on the Champions League against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. but he gave Real Madrid a major trophy that they desperately needed. Even after having more than 10+ injuries to the first team players in the 2020/2021 season, Zidane reached the semi-finals of the Champions League but lost against Chelsea, and just missed on the La Liga title by 2 points, Real Madrid went a trophyless season without bagging in any of the major titles. The injuries were also the main reason behind this season, but Real media fans and pundits alike blamed Zidane for his “in-efficiency” in handling the team.


It is an exact reason why any human with emotion would walk away the feeling of being “appreciated plays a major role” in the overall spirit of an individual. 


These might be the reasons why  Zidane Left Real Madrid again in 2021. 


In both instances, Zidane's departures were influenced by his desire to maintain high standards and his recognition of the natural cycles in football management. His decisions were shaped by a mix of personal conviction, professional foresight, and the practical realities of leading one of the world's most prestigious football clubs.


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