Wednesday 24 April 2019

Mourinho in line for Real return

Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: PA
Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: PA

Chris Bascombe and Jason Burt

Jose Mourinho is expected to be offered the chance to become the new coach of Real Madrid, with sources suggesting the club is "almost 100pc" sure to bring back Mourinho, who left in 2013, after three years at the Bernabeu, to return to Chelsea.

There appears to be a growing campaign for the Portuguese, who was sacked by Manchester United in December after a dismal start to the season and with a demoralised squad.

It would be a remarkable turn of events for Mourinho, whose time in charge of Real proved divisive and appeared to take its toll on him. When he returned to Chelsea it was said by club sources that he was not quite the same character who had left, but it is believed that he's keen on making the move back to the Spanish giants and recently told beIN Sports he had "no problem" about returning.

Current coach Santiago Solari has a contract until 2021, but has no chance of staying in charge next season after Real crashed out of the Champions League with a humiliating home defeat by Ajax in the last 16 on Tuesday.

Solari is expected to see out the remainder of this campaign, even though Mourinho is out of work at present. Neither he nor other big-name coaches would want to take over during the season.

Real fans chanted for Mourinho after the Ajax game and, tellingly, he told the Spanish TV station El Chiringuito: “I am proud of that, but Real Madrid have a manager. Obviously it’s a reason to be proud, but nothing more than that.

“There has been nothing (between me and the club) – not even the minimum contact. I haven’t done that (spoken to the players or the president). Like you say, there are rumours. But rumours in football are bad.”

Not all rumours, it seems. While Mourinho may not have had any direct contract with Real, as he has claimed, it is understood there have been discussions between representatives.

Real are 12 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona, who also knocked them out of the Copa del Rey, which means their season is already over in terms of silverware.

The pressure is mounting on Florentino Perez, the club president, who has maintained a good relationship with Mourinho, having hired him in the first place, and has always indicated he would like him to come back at some stage.

Whoever takes over has a major rebuilding job, with an ageing squad and the club saddled with a crippling wage bill and without the kind of budget to buy new players that would be expected.

Whether that appeals to Mourinho remains to be seen, but it is understood that there have been positive noises from his camp about the possibility of making a return.

If Mourinho is appointed, it would have ramifications for other clubs and coaches.

Real have shown strong interest in Tottenham Hotspur’s Mauricio Pochettino, while Massimiliano Allegri is increasingly expected to leave Juventus in the summer and has also been linked to Real.

It is understood, however, he would like to work in the Premier League.

Reports have emerged claiming Real may also be interested in Jurgen Klopp, but he will not entertain offers to lure him away this summer.

The German is committed to Liverpool, where he has a contract until 2022, and has no intention of walking away.

Although the Liverpool manager has so far been frustrated in his quest for silverware, he is yet to oversee a European campaign at Anfield in which his side have not reached the final, and is currently a point behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.

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