Zinedine Zidane Quits As Real Madrid Manager

Zinedine Zidane has sensationally quit Real Madrid after landing an historic Champions League hat-trick.

The Frenchman called an unexpected press conference on Thursday afternoon to reveal that he will be leaving after two-and-a-half years in charge.

The 45-year-old revealed that he feels this is the right time to go despite being a legend as both a player and a manager. 

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Chelsea's Antonio Conte are the early front-runners to take over.

Appearing alongside Real president Florentino Perez, Zidane said: 'I have taken the decision to not continue going into the next season. For me and for everybody, I think the moment to change has arrived. It was not an easy decision.'

Zidane told club president Florentino Perez of his plans on Wednesday as he believes the team needs a change.

'I love this club, I love the president,' he said. 'He gave me the opportunity to come as a player and now manager and I am eternally grateful.'

'But we have to change.' 

Perez said Zidane's decision to leave was 'unexpected': 'After winning the Champions League, the decision was unexpected,' he said. 'It is a sad day for me, the fans and the players.

'But he knows I wanted him as a player and as a manager. I wanted him to stay forever and I wanted to convince him to stay. But I know it was his final decision. All I want to do is remind him that this club is his home and family.'

Perez continued: 'I went to his house yesterday to see if he was prepared. He told me that he was convinced he wanted to go.

'I want to thank him for his commitment and passion to Real Madrid. His behaviour has always been an example for all and representative of Real. I don’t want this to be a goodbye but a "see you soon". I have no doubt he will come back soon.' 

The quest to find a high-profile successor will now commence: Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and the Italian Maurizio Sarri, most recently of Napoli, have all been linked with the Bernabeu hotseat. 

Wenger and Conte are the bookies favourites to replace Zidane at Real, with Conte 4/1 to take over.

Zidane, the former Real, Juventus and Bordeaux midfielder, is understood to be under contract in Madrid until 2020.

Stepping up from managing the 'Castilla' B team, he replaced Rafael Benitez in January 2016 and although Real were runners-up to Barcelona at the end of the league campaign, he toasted European glory as city rivals Atletico Madrid were vanquished after a penalty shootout in Milan.

Zidane followed up his maiden Champions League crown as a coach with a LaLiga title and in June 2017 his side delivered a more emphatic European Cup final triumph as his former employers Juventus were humbled 4-1 in Cardiff.

Although Real lost only two of their first 15 league matches in the recently concluded Spanish championship, Ernesto Valverde's Barca were able to run away with the league following their vital 3-0 El Clasico win at the Bernabeu in December.

Zidane did stabilise results and duly blazed a trail to Kiev in the continental competition, but reports of dissatisfaction with his approach to domestic matters - namely the handling of star forward Gareth Bale, who has publicly expressed his own unhappiness with a reduced role - meant for regular reports of a potential summer exit. 

The 45-year-old has an incredible record with the club statistically speaking.

Zidane has won 70 per cent of his league games as boss and has only lost four Champions League games during his tenure.

In all competitions, Zidane just about matches his league record, having won 69 per cent of all the games he has been in charge of.

Despite his success in Spain and Europe with Real Madrid, he has had his future questioned this season, after a poor run of form see them fail to challenge Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has previously been linked with the position but he put the rumours to bed after signing a new deal with Spurs.