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Isco and Marcelo laughing, Bale crying: Winners and losers of Zidane’s return to Real Madrid

19:57 GMT 11/03/2019
Gareth Bale, Isco split, Real Madrid
The French boss' return is good news for Sergio Ramos and a few others, but the Welshman will be among those wondering what comes next

Zinedine Zidane's sensational return to the bench at Real Madrid has largely been hailed as a shrewd move for all involved, but for some players at the club it merely raises doubts over their futures.

Santiago Solari's appointment saw a raft of new names drafted into the squad and upset others who had been long-standing starters, but the reappointment of Zidane will see things shaken up yet again.

From Gareth Bale, Marcelo all the way through to skipper Sergio Ramos, Goal looks at the players who are likely to be affected most by the Frenchman's return.


Ramos, Marcelo, Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema and Luca Zidane should all be the main beneficiaries of the three-time Champions League-winning coach. Isco, too, could be forgiven for getting his hopes up, having fallen into oblivion under Solari.

With Madrid having successfully convinced Zidane to come back, there is now no room for Jose Mourinho – a Florentino Perez favourite – at the club. Ramos in particular will be beaming in the wake of the news, with the captain's dressing room disputes with the Portuguese well documented.

For Marcelo's part, the Brazilian had fallen down the pecking order under Solari and, as a favourite of Zidane, looks likely to return to the starting XI under the Frenchman.

Asensio and Benzema did feature under Scolari, but the latter – without Cristiano Ronaldo's presence – is sure to flourish under the guidance of his countryman, while Asensio will be keen to show he can help improve Madrid's goal tally after the Portugal captain's absence.

Being the son of the coach, young Luca Zidane could be given a more prominent role at the club, but potentially the most interesting case if that of Isco, whose time in the Spanish capital has been patchy at best.

The Spain international did have ups and downs under Zidane, but was never frozen out in the same manner he was under Solari. As a result, fans could be treated to a revitalised attacking midfielder keen on starting afresh under the iconic coach.


With the good, as the saying goes, you also have to take the bad, and the likes of Bale, Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente are likely to feel they fall into the losers column of this scenario.

Bale is another who endured ups and downs during Zidane's reign, but the Welshman's stunning Champions League final-winning goal went some way to showing just what he can offer.

Under Lopetegui and Solari, however, the attacker was expected to step up in the absence of Ronaldo, though things haven't gone quite to plan.

A poor relationship with Solari in particular was well known, while Bale's failure to learn Spanish during his six years in the capital – among other things – has seemingly unsettled his team-mates.

Bale does have some time to regain Zidane's trust before an end-of-season overhaul, but whether that happens rests in the hands of both the player in terms of performance in training and whether Zidane is willing to give the player yet another shot to prove he can fill Ronaldo's boots.

Elsewhere, Ceballos and Llorente had played well under Solari, with Llorente in particular proving an able understudy to Casemiro at the heart of midfield. Ceballos had operated in several different positions in midfield, but Zidane could well opt to stick to tried and tested first-teamers Toni Kroos and Luca Modric.

Of course, it remains to be seen how Zidane will shake up the pack upon his return, and Ceballos and Llorente may feel that their performances under Solari puts them in good stead for game time under the new boss, but Bale will have his work cut out for him if he is to establish himself as Madrid's great hope.

What happens next, Zidane's homecoming is sure to provide an interesting new episode to the ongoing drama at the Santiago Bernabeu.