Zinedine Zidane has announced that he is leaving Real Madrid less than a week after guiding them to an unprecedented third successive Champions League title.
The club revealed on Thursday that Zidane was to appear in a hastily arranged news conference that caught many by surprise, fuelling speculation that his tenure at the Santiago Bernabeu could be coming to an end.
Zidane confirmed his departure at the start of the news briefing, just five days after he presided over the 3-1 Champions League final win over Liverpool.
“It’s time to go. These players need a different discourse, a different methodology,” the Frenchman said.
Such success, which he also managed in each of his first two seasons in charge of the team, has not been enough to persuade him to prolong his spell.
Madrid’s third-place LaLiga finish is likely the major factor in Zidane’s departure, as Los Blancos ended the season 17 points adrift of bitter rivals and champions Barcelona.
Lampard Takes Manager Job
Chelsea great Frank Lampard has taken his first step into management with his appointment at Championship club Derby County.
Lampard emerged as a frontrunner at the weekend and swiftly became the favourite when he revealed Derby’s interest. He signed a three-year contract on Thursday.
The Rams were on the lookout for a new manager after Gary Rowett departed for Stoke City in the wake of Derby’s play-off semi-final defeat to Fulham.
Lampard ended his playing career in 2016, as two brief spells with Manchester City and New York City followed his remarkably successful 13-year spell at Chelsea.
While some are likely to point at his lack of experience, the 39-year-old is confident in his abilities after learning from the likes of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti.
Bemzema Breaks Silence After World Cup Snub
Karim Benzema slammed French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet for showing his “true face” by supporting Didier Deschamps’ decision to leave the Real Madrid striker out of France’s World Cup squad.
The 30-year-old has not been picked by his country since October 2015, having been investigated in relation to an alleged attempt to blackmail his international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
Although Deschamps has in the past suggested the door is not closed to Benzema, his ongoing absence has often raised questions.
Le Graet was asked about Benzema’s omission from the World Cup squad in a recent interview and, despite previously saying he would not comment on the situation, he surmised that France now play a certain “style of play and we cannot go back”.
And his comments did not escape the attention of an angered Benzema.
He wrote on his official Twitter account: “Mr [Le] Graet, with all due respect, you’ve lost an opportunity to remain silent.
“I’ve discovered your true face, and this isn’t the one that said he appreciated me and wouldn’t discuss the subject of team selections!”
France begin their World Cup campaign against Australia on June 16 in Kazan.
Sule Hails Lewandowski
Bayern Munich defender Niklas Sule praised Robert Lewandowski for another prolific campaign with the Bundesliga champions.
Lewandowski, 29, is expected to leave Bayern in the off-season after his agent confirmed the forward wanted a new challenge.
The Poland international has previously been linked with Real Madrid, having enjoyed four strong seasons at Bayern.
Sule lauded his team-mate – who netted 29 Bundesliga goals in 2017-18 – for staying focused amid the speculation during the season.
“Rudiger Bust Up Nothing Unusual”
Joshua Kimmich says his training ground bust-up with Germany team-mate Antonio Rudiger on Wednesday was nothing “unusual”.
Kimmich and Rudiger were photographed squaring up after the Chelsea defender produced a strong challenge on the training pitch, as Joachim Low prepares to name his final 23-man squad for the World Cup.
The Bayern Munich youngster is reported to have reacted to Rudiger’s tackle by getting in his face, with Miroslav Klose – now a member of the coaching staff – separating the pair.
But Kimmich does not think the incident should be blown out of proportion, suggesting it was nothing out of the ordinary.
“The scene was not that unusual either,” Kimmich told reporters. “On the contrary; if everyone wants to win, let’s get down to business.”
“I Need To Be Tested”
Arsene Wenger has revealed he is already bored of being out of work and wants to be tested at a top club.
The Frenchman left Arsenal at the end of the season after 22 years in charge, being replaced by Unai Emery.
Wenger maintained he was not planning on retiring when he left north London, and his desire to return to the game has returned much quicker than expected.
The 68-year-old says he feels addicted to football and is already prepared to take on another coaching role because he has grown bored since leaving the Gunners.
“It’s exciting now because I can be tested again. That’s what I want in my life,” he told beIN SPORTS. “I’m a competitor who wants to be tested.
“I don’t know what will happen but I’m in front of an empty page and I have to write the next chapter.
“I’m not very gifted to enjoy life and lie on the beach. I envy friends of mine who can do that.
“Very quickly I’ve become bored because it’s an addiction I have created. I have the addicted gene and you have to live with it.”
“I Wish I Had A Farewell Like Iniesta”
Real Madrid great Iker Casillas would be open to a return to the club despite admitting he wished his farewell compared to Andres Iniesta and Fernando Torres’.
Casillas ended a 25-year stay at Madrid in 2015, departing his boyhood club for Porto after winning five LaLiga titles and three Champions League crowns.
While Madrid have denied forcing Casillas out, his farewell paled in comparison to Iniesta’s at Barcelona and Torres’ at Atletico Madrid earlier this month.
Casillas, 37, said he would have no issues returning to Madrid in the future, but accepted his farewell was mishandled by the European champions.
“If Real Madrid call me, I couldn’t say no to return to the club in the future,” he said on Wednesday.
“I saw the Iniesta and Torres farewells and, well, my situation was another different then in Real Madrid.
“In the future there will be reconciliations and there won’t be any problem. Everybody would love a farewell like those ones, but I’m not all the day focused on that.”
Casillas played 16 seasons at Madrid, while the 167-time Spain international helped his nation win the 2010 World Cup and European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
Robben Fools People As Cruyff Statue
Arjen Robben pretended to be a statue of Johan Cruyff and successfully managed to convince passersby that he is indeed a statue!
The Bayern Munich star looked unrecognizable as he wore a wig before slathering himself in silver paint.
Robben then stood still – just like a statue – as people brilliantly mistook him for Dutch idol Cruyff.
The former Chelsea man appeared to be highly amused by his ability to transform into the legendary footballer.
But it was all for a good cause, with the stunt performed as a charity event for ‘Netherlands stands up against cancer’.
Robben, 34, posed alongside real statues at the show in Alkmaar, but his mind may also have been on his country’s failure to qualify for the World Cup this summer.
Robben retired from international duty after the Dutch failed to make the cut for the tournament in Russia.
J League Apologizes For Torres Transfer Story
Andres Iniesta might be set to grace the J.League but former Spain team-mate Fernando Torres will not be joining him – just yet.
Following Barcelona great Iniesta completing his surprise switch to Vissel Kobe last week, Torres has been linked with a move to Sagan Tosu in Japan’s top flight.
On Wednesday, the J. League published a story on its official website announcing the 34-year-old striker had signed for struggling Sagan – the club lie second bottom in the table after 15 matches this season – only to swiftly take the article down and publish an apology.
“Today on the official website of the J.League, a page containing incorrect information regarding a player joining Sagan Tosu was made viewable,” a statement read.
“Our sincere apologies go to the Sagan Tosu club, everybody involved with the club, fans and supporters for any inconvenience this may have caused.
“We are currently investigating what caused this error and we will do our very best to prevent this from happening again.”
Torres bade an emotional farewell to Atletico Madrid on the final day of LaLiga this season, scoring his 128th and 129th goals for his boyhood club in a 2-2 draw against Eibar.
“Madrid have a winning gene and Barca have fallen asleep. They have been dormant for years with signings and that takes its toll.”
Barcelona great Xavi slammed the LaLiga giants for falling asleep amid Real Madrid’s European dominance.
Did You Know?
Zinedine Zidane picked up nine trophies in his two years and four months with Real Madrid, the most titles by a manager with the club since Miguel Muñoz won 14 trophies in 14 years (1960 – 1974).