What Zinedine Zidane must do to rebuild Real Madrid

After a disaster of a season which saw European champions Real Madrid suffer an embarrassingly early Champions League exit and chew through two coaches, returning hero Zinedine Zidane has promised big changes.

“Things will change, in every way, we have to change things for the years to come,” said Zidane, who took the job on the condition that president Florentino Perez arms him for the seasons ahead.

With Barcelona heading to their seventh title in 10 years, Madrid are in need of a drastic shake-up, and less than a year after he left because of that fact, Zidane is back and is ready to make it happen.

Here are the main aspects Zidane needs to work on for next season…

Sifting through the rubble

Zinedine Zidane must turn Real Madrid back into world beaters

One of the biggest problems at Real Madrid this season was Santiago Solari’s treatment of a certain band of regulars, club legends who have been key to the team’s three consecutive Champions League wins.

Marcelo was dumped for Sergio Reguilon, Isco bombed out of the side entirely, while Gareth Bale, Keylor Navas and Casemiro also found their opportunities limited.

However Zidane’s first action upon returning to duty was to reinstate those players in his side for the 2-0 win over Celta Vigo.

That’s not to say he is planning on keeping them all as part of his side next season, but like a good detective he is looking at the crime scene and finding out who can stay and who must leave.

Some big names will have to leave, with Thibaut Courtois one of those who might be set to depart the Santiago Bernabeu, just one season after joining from Chelsea.

Thibaut Courtois could be on his way out of Real Madrid

Zidane, who told Madrid repeatedly he didn’t want to replace Navas in goal, reinstated the Costa Rican over his Belgian counterpart.

Courtois, disliked by fans of his previous clubs Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, is having a rough time of it, and made a grievous error for his national team on Thursday.

If Zidane wants Navas in goal there is no sense keeping Courtois in the squad, which would only cause problems and unrest.

Isco is a player loved and admired by fans in Spain but may also think after years of being in and out of the side at Madrid it is time to move on.

Perhaps most important is the Gareth Bale conundrum…

Ronaldo replacement

Madrid must decide whether to keep or sell Gareth Bale

You can’t sell your all-time record goalscorer, who consistently hits 50 a season, and get away with it unless you sign a replacement. Madrid didn’t and have paid the price.

Ronaldo’s presence has been greatly missed, with the Portuguese striker’s hat-trick against Atletico in the Champions League to send Juventus through proving he is still decisive at the top level.

Madrid instead suffered their earliest elimination for more than a decade at the hands of Ajax, throwing the club into a profound crisis and prompting the return of Zizou.

Madrid need a player to bring Ronaldo’s goals back but also, crucially, their shine, a top level player who strikes fear into the hearts of defences.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to dump Atletico Madrid out of the Champions League

Bale has proven this season that he is not capable of being that man and Madrid must decide whether to keep him or sell him, to raise funds for a proper Ronaldo replacement.

Naturally there are few options, with PSG duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappe the two biggest names, but both would command eye-watering fees.

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is a more affordable option, given his deal at Stamford Bridge expires in June 2020, meaning Madrid will be able to get him for below premium price, just as they did with Courtois.

The Belgian winger has never hidden his desire to be coached by Zidane and with the Frenchman’s return, a move to the Spanish capital may be the solution to Madrid’s Ronaldo problem.

Bring life to the midfield

Eden Hazard could be the ideal solution for Madrid

A winning team needs to be refreshed but Madrid’s midfield has stayed the same over the past few seasons.

Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are a trio which has led Madrid to untold glory but at points this season all three of them have not been at the required level.

There is plenty of interest in Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric in Italy and at 33, it could be time for the Croatian to move.

Kroos has hit a dead end at Madrid, while Casemiro has been supplanted by Marcos Llorente, although Zidane during his previous reign was not particularly keen on utilising the youth products.

Paul Pogba is the latest high-profile midfielder to be linked with a move to Madrid, saying it was a “dream” move for any player.

Madrid are said to have 300 million euros to spend on refreshing the squad and a good portion of that must go to the midfield.

Paul Pogba said a switch to Real Madrid would be a ‘dream’ move for any player

Keep bringing through the youth

It would be remiss of Zidane to ignore the few positive moments there were under Solari, mostly involving the youth players.

Reguilon has been able to hold his head up high despite the team’s humiliation, offering constant hard work on the left, while providing the defensive solidity Marcelo simply cannot muster.

Llorente’s performances have not gone unnoticed by Madrid supporters but the most impressive young performer so far has been Vinicius Junior.

The Brazilian, 18, has lit up Madrid’s season in bleak moments and gave the Bernabeu the chance to breathe and dream when nothing else was working.

Zidane must build on Solari’s work with the young forward and keep him as an important part of the first team squad next season.

Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior has impressed

Bring back the hope

Zinedine Zidane has breathed new life into Real Madrid but must now build on that

‘Ilusion’ is a Spanish word which means hope, dreams and excitement all at once – and it is what Madrid have lacked this season.

With the dual departures of Ronaldo and Zidane, Madrid lost a lot of their star power and attendances have been at their lowest since before Cristiano joined.

Even Zidane just arriving back at Madrid has breathed new life into the club and the prospect of a new era under his command finally has fans excited again.

It is a good building block and with some better performances between now and the end of the season and a strong summer in the transfer market, Madrid will be as confident as ever going into the new season.

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