Real Madrid have made a decision on their next manager, and it’s not Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino. In fact, it’s a man who doesn’t have much top-flight managing experience. But it’s someone with ties to the club, not to mention La Liga itself. When the World Cup concludes, Spain boss Julen Lopetegui will take over at Madrid. He follows in the footsteps of Zinedine Zidane, of course, who is coming off leading Real to a three-peat in the Champions League.
Madrid would announce the move in a statement on their website. Lopetegui, however, just extended his Spain contract in May after taking over in 2016. We assume that will not be the case once the World Cup ends, though. Dual-managing isn’t as simple as the FIFA videogame makes it out to be. For now, the deal is set to three years. But more than that, what does Lopetegui bring to Madrid? After taking a job as an assistant on Spain’s U-17 staff, Lopetegui got his first club gig with Rayo Vallecano — then of Spain’s second division. But after just 10 matches, Vallecano would sack Lopetegui. Ultimately they would be relegated to the third division. But from then on, there’s not much club experience to speak of.
Lopetegui took on Real Madrid B duties in 2008, but only until 2009. From then on he would work exclusively with Spain’s youth sides — the U-19s, U-20s and U-21s — from 2010 through 2014. He didn’t lead FC Port to any silverware either between 2014-16 despite guiding them to the quarterfinals of the Champions League back in 2014. Then, of course, he would take the Spain job. So no, Lopetegui doesn’t boast too much top flight experience. But Zidane didn’t have any before taking over at Madrid, and that ended up being okay. However, Lopetegui didn’t have quite the playing career Zidane did either. Still, it’s an interesting step for Madrid to take. And needless to say, the pressure is going to be very high on Lopetegui.
But that’s also the case for Spain in the World Cup. Thus, this summer could end up serving as the perfect primer for the new Madrid boss.