Real Madrid have finally unveiled that who would be the successor of Zinedine Zidane and as everyone had hoped, the Frenchman’s successor have been announced ahead of the summer World Cup.
Football news: Spain’s national coach Julen Lopetegui will take over at the Santiago Bernabeu after the World Cup
However the appointment of Julen Lopetegui came in as a major surprise when the announcement was made on Tuesday and the decision could prove risky for both Madrid and Spain.
Lopetegui was a former goalkeeper and had represented both Real and Barcelona as a player. As a manager he had been in charge for the Spanish national team for just 20 matches and signed a new contract as a recently as May 22.
When Zidane stepped down from the mantle on May 31 after leading the club to third consecutive Champions League crown, Lopetegui’s name as a successor was faintly heard.
After failing to lure Mauricio Pochettino from Tottenham, Madrid shifted their focus to Germany’s Joachim Low and Brazil boss Tite, but both of them ruled themselves out.
"Julen Lopetegui will be the Real Madrid coach after the celebration of the 2018 World Cup," the club announced on their website on Tuesday. "Lopetegui will be the coach of the first team during the next three seasons."
The short statement also said that the coach would take up the role after the conclusion of the World Cup, which starts on Thursday and finishes on July 15, with Spain among the favourites to lift the crown at Moscow.
La Roja will begin their World Cup campaign on Friday against Portugal and the news of Lopetegui will not be an ideal preparation for a World Cup.
Only time will show if there is any affect in the team and the players due to Lopetegui’s decision, but there will surely be an unwanted distraction for the Spanish team throughout the competition.
For Madrid, they would have to wait until mid-July to work with their new coach, which means it would become late for planning transfers and shaping the team for the next season.
Moreover if Lopetegui is being contacted for these matters, especially about the futures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, then he might not have his full focus on the World Cup and his current position.
Moreover Lopetegui has not yet been tested as a manager that much. Except from leading Spain to U-19 and U-21 European Championship crown, he took Porto to the Champions League quarter-finals in 2014-15, but was sacked because of his failure to win the league.
With Spain, he has won 14 games and drawn six since taking over the team from Vicente del Bosque in 2016. That run includes a 3-0 victory against Italy at home and 1-1 draw away, along with 6-1 victory against Argentina which did not feature Lionel Messi.
The timing for the announcement is not at all perfect as La Roja aim for World Cup glory while the Los Blancos are looking to build a good squad for the 2018-19 season, and thus the appointment of Lopetegui looks like a risky one for both Madrid and Spain.