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22nd Oct 2018

Real Madrid eye Pochettino as ex-player looks set to replace Lopetegui for rest of season

Simon Lloyd

Julen Lopetegui’s time as Real Madrid manager appears all but over

Another defeat for the European champions at the weekend – this time at home to Levante – has seen strong speculation that Lopetegui could be sacked by the end of Monday.

While the former Spanish national team coach is thought to be pressing ahead with plans for Real’s Champions League meeting with┬áViktoria Plzen on Tuesday, Marca report that Florentino Perez has already drawn up a list of possible replacements.

Top of it is former Real midfielder, Santiago Solari, who is currently in charge of the club’s Castilla side. The report claims that he is seen as a more viable option at this stage than the likes of former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and Laurent Blanc.

Solari has been in charge of Real’s Castilla side since the summer of 2016, six months after Zinedine Zidane had been promoted to manage the first team following the departure of Rafa Benitez. The report claims Perez will offer Solari a deal until the end of the season (as he initially did with Zidane), possibly extending it depending on the team’s results.

Should Solari not do enough to convince before next summer, the report claims Perez will seek a new long-term replacement in time for 2019/2020, with Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino seen as the main target.

Lopetegui only replaced Zidane as Real boss in July, news of his appointment prompting the Spanish football federation to sack him as manager of the national team on the eve of the World Cup finals.

Since taking charge he’s overseen a miserable spell at the Bernabeu. The only crumb of comfort from their 2-1 defeat at the weekend was that Marcelo’s consolation goal brought to an end the club’s longest ever run without a goal, totalling 482 minutes. Before the Brazilian struck against Levante, their last goal in any competition came in a 1-0 win against Espanyol a month ago, with them failing to score in games against Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, CSKA Moscow and Alaves.