Zidane: Real Madrid need to 'change things'; Perez: I'd take Neymar, Mbappe
Zinedine Zidane spoke of a "second project" and repeatedly mentioned "changes" to a Real Madrid squad that needs renewing as he made his shock return to the Bernabeu on Monday evening.
Zidane won nine trophies in two and a half years during his first spell as Real Madrid's coach up until last June, including the Champions League title at the end of each of his seasons in charge.
The 2018-19 season has been a disaster for Madrid -- with Julen Lopetegui fired after a 5-1 La Liga defeat to Barcelona in October, and Santiago Solari paying for last week's shock UCL exit to Ajax and back-to-back Clasico losses in Copa del Rey and La Liga.
Local media speculation immediately put Gareth Bale atop the list of players who could leave Madrid this summer, with Kylian Mbappe and Eden Hazard seen as the most likely potential targets for Zidane's new-look side.
"Zidane is French, so with Mbappe he could do something, no? Now what we need to do is finish the season well and prepare for next year," Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said when asked about Mbappe.
Then asked about Neymar or Mbappe, Perez said: "I'd take them both."
Asked whether Cristiano Ronaldo might also be tempted to return to Real Madrid from Juventus, Zidane claimed to have not yet discussed transfer decisions with Perez.
"That is not today's issue," he said. "We have 11 games to play, then we will see for next years. We all know Cristiano, one of the best players in this club's history. But today is not for talking about these things. I am not thinking yet about that. The most important thing is to be back at the club, and I am just thinking now about these 11 games. We will have time to look at the rest, with the appropriate people, then we will plan for next season."
Perez reportedly considered bringing back another former coach, Jose Mourinho, to sort out the situation, but instead turned to the former galactico.
"I am looking forward to this second project, with the president, the club and the fans," Zidane said at a news conference. "It is a great challenge, I know that, but I am really looking forward to it, to returning to coach. I want to work again and put this club back where it should be. The only thing for me is to start work tomorrow."
Without being prompted by reporters, Zidane recalled that their domestic 2017-18 season was also a disaster, including a Copa exit to lowly neighbours Leganes, and a third-place La Liga finish behind winners Barca.
"I do not want to forget what we won [the Champions League], but also not forget the bad things we did all together last year," he said. "We lost La Liga early, we lost the Copa del Rey, we won the Champions League, OK, but I know where I am. When you are at the top, sometimes, you must know that some things are wrong. Many players had won for five, six, seven years. The team needed a change, so I felt it necessary to leave [last summer]. It was a decision I had to take. And now this is another decision I had to take. I had various offers, but did not want to go to any other club. When the president called me to return, I could not say no."
While suggesting a big summer squad shake-up was likely at the Bernabeu, Zidane said all the specifics of changes to come would have to wait until the team had finished out the La Liga season.
"Now we must finish this season well, and prepare very well for next season," he said. "We start that from tomorrow. We will change things, for sure. We must change things for the years to come. But now is not about that -- the important thing is I am back. We will have time to talk with the president, with the club, about what we can do. We will see about that, but it is not the issue for today. We have 11 games left and want to finish as well as possible, starting on Saturday."
Zidane declined to comment on the job done by his successors, Lopetegui and Solari.
"I do not blame anybody, coaches who came here, Lopetegui and Solari wanted to do the best possible for the players, team and club," he said. "It went as it went. I will not get into that. The only thing is we must look forward and what we all want to do, first of all the players."