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Zinedine Zidane returns to Real Madrid to replace sacked Santi Solari

ESPN FC's Craig Burley discusses Real Madrid's reappointment of Zinedine Zidane.
ESPN FC's Craig Burley discusses Real Madrid's reappointment of Zinedine Zidane.

Real Madrid have sacked Santiago Solari and replaced him with Zinedine Zidane, the club confirmed on Monday.

Zidane, 46, has signed a three-year contract that will keep the former Los Blancos star at the Bernabeu until June 30, 2022.

He will take over at the club immediately.

"Real Madrid's board, meeting today Monday 11 March 2019, have decided to end the contract which linked Santiago Solari to the club as first team coach, while offering him to continue working for the club," the club said in a statement.

"Real Madrid thanks Santiago Solari for his work done and the commitment and loyalty he has shown to what is his home."

The Frenchman, who quit only last spring, recently became the favoured candidate across the Real Madrid board, overpowering president Florentino Perez's temptation to reappoint Jose Mourinho. Zidane's first spell in charge of the club included winning the Champions League three times in a row, as well as La Liga in 2017.

Sources told ESPN FC earlier on Monday that Madrid were expected to bestow Zidane with wider power and influence over the club's transfer-market choices. 

According to sources, first soundings to Zidane were made in the aftermath of the catastrophic Champions League exit to Ajax last week, which all but guaranteed Madrid will not lift a trophy for the first time in nine years.

A run of three successive defeats, including twice to Barcelona in the league and Copa del Rey, left Madrid's season in disarray before Sunday night's 4-1 win over Real Valladolid. Club captain Sergio Ramos has called the situation "disastrous," while Nacho has said the team had a "difficult" relationship with the coach. 

Zidane's return is the latest episode in a dramatic season for the club. Back in the summer, Julen Lopetegui was named Zidane's successor, only to then lose his job as Spain coach on the eve of the World Cup. He lasted just four months, the final match of his 14-game spell a 5-1 defeat to Barcelona.

Lopetegui's replacement, Solari, had been temporarily in charge after the Barcelona defeat before the move was made permanent on Nov. 12.

Madrid are third in La Liga, 12 points off leaders Barcelona with 11 matches remaining.

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