As Carlo Ancelotti nears the expiry of his contract at Real Madrid, the search for a potential successor for the Italian tactician is starting to heat up.
The 64-year-old manager has been coy on his future, although reports suggest that he would be open to signing a new deal if offered.
At the same time, though, he is said to be taking over the reins of the Brazilian national team starting from the Copa America next summer.
Amidst this, several names have been linked with the managerial hotseat at Real Madrid for 2024.
Zinedine Zidane a possible candidate
And now, a report from France Bleu, there is a possibility that former manager and club legend Zinedine Zidane could return to Real Madrid to replace Ancelotti.
The iconic former midfielder has already had two stints as the manager of the Merengues, tasting great success in each of his spells.
Zidane stepped away from the role in 2021 due to some issues with the club hierarchy, although the relationship is understood to have been mended by now.
The former French international has already turned down approaches from the likes of Saudi Arabia and Brazil while he has also rejected a chance to coach Olympique Marseille.
Zidane would be open to managing Marseille if there is a change in ownership at the club, but at the same time, his return to Real Madrid is also a possibility.
Xabi Alonso the favourite
Despite there being a chance of Zidane returning, the report adds that at the moment it is another former Real Madrid midfielder, Xabi Alonso, who is the favourite to replace Ancelotti.
The current Bayer Leverkusen boss has done exceptionally well at the Bundesliga club over the past ten months or so, and has seemingly made a big impression on the Madrid hierarchy.
As such, Alonso continues to be the frontrunner for the managerial position at the Santiago Bernabeu should Ancelotti step down.
There are other interesting names in the mix as well, including Brighton & Hove Albion’s Roberto De Zerbi, although it appears like a long shot at this moment.
Real Madrid youngster in line for significant minutes against Granada – report
Nico Paz was long hyped as Real Madrid Castilla’s brightest upcoming star. The media constantly kept the spotlight on the young Argentine through pre-season as he made a strong impression under Carlo Ancelotti in preseason.
His breakthrough eventually arrived, courtesy of Real Madrid’s injury crisis. He has now made two appearances for the team in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League and even recorded his first goal for the club earlier this week against Napoli.
Taking his chances
As revealed by AS (h/t The Madrid Zone), Paz has impressed management with his cameo against Napoli and will be called up for Real Madrid’s clash against Granada tomorrow.
In fact, there is a good chance he sees significant game time on the night.
After all, Ancelotti is without the likes of Luka Modric, Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga in the middle of the park.
With Toni Kroos, Dani Ceballos, Federico Valverde, and Jude Bellingham filling the starting spots, Paz serves as the manager’s first-choice backup off the bench.
Paz voices his elation
Paz’s introduction against Napoli changed the texture of the game, and it was only poetic that he got the goal that put Real Madrid ahead again on the night.
Speaking to the media after his special night, the Castilla star did not hold back on his emotions.
“This is a dream. For a moment I didn’t even believe it. Very happy to be able to help the team. I dared. I was in automatic mode, I didn’t even know what I was doing. I hit it and well.”
“This is also a message for the other youth players: it is possible to get there. Ancelotti congratulated me, and the whole staff. They are an incredible group and I want to thank them all,” he added, urging his Castilla teammates to keep pushing.