The French legend’s side returned to the top of the Spanish league with a 2-0 win over Barcelona in El Clasico, but that was seen by sources within the club as a crucially timed victory amid “growing pressure”.
There was said to be dismay at the manner of the Champions League last-16 first-leg defeat to Manchester City, on the back of strained relationships in the dressing room.
The atmosphere isn’t as buoyant as it was in Zidane’s initial spell as manager, when he won three European Cups and a league, and there has been much more tension this time out with the senior players. Some are said to have been unhappy with certain managerial approaches.
Madrid president Florentino Perez hasn’t always had the easiest of relationships with Zidane, either, despite that sensational success in Europe.
Some feel this is down to the fact the Frenchman has not been as subservient to Perez as others in the role, and is sure of his footing given his success as a player and coach. The Madrid president had to persuade Zidane to come back to the job in March, having already tested whether Pochettino would be available.
The Argentine has long been admired by the Bernabeu hierarchy, but has previously proven impossible to extract from Tottenham Hotspur. As a free agent, and with a series of major clubs interested, Pochettino is expected to return to work in Europe this summer. Mindful of this, Madrid have asked to be kept informed of any offers, and to maintain an open line of dialogue.
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