Champions League

Here’s why Lopetegui was appointed: The role played by Klopp, Conte and Pochettino


Julian Lopetegui’s appointment as Real Madrid’s head coach came as a shock but Florentino Perez’s hand was forced by top Premier League managers

Real Madrid’s decision to announce Lopetegui’s appointment just a couple of days before the World Cup came as a huge shock to the football fraternity. The former Porto boss is a well-known figure who has plied his trade at several youth levels with the national team.

However, he was not expected to be the man to succeed Zidane, especially since he signed a two-year contract extension with Spain. Instead, Premier League managers namely Antonio Conte, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino were linked to the Bernabeu hot seat with the Argentine an early frontrunner.

Now, Sky Sports journalist and Spanish football expert Guillem Balague has given his views on why and how this appointment came about. He said:

“It has been surprising for everybody, but to be honest the three names who had been linked – Pochettino, Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte – for different reasons they didn’t fit the agenda.”

“Pochettino quite clearly didn’t even have the chance to say yes or no because Real Madrid didn’t want to negotiate with Daniel Levy.”

“They realised very quickly that Klopp has got a close link with Liverpool and couldn’t get him out of there, and with Conte, they were not sure he was what was needed for Real Madrid.”

With their top three targets ruled out to due to one reason or another, they were only a few choices left for Madrid. Balague admitted that the national coach’s appointment came out of the blue but at the same time he did say that the European Champions could have done much worse. He added:

After that, it was a case of guessing for us. And nobody put Lopetegui’s name forward because of course, we all thought he was focusing on the World Cup, and he a contract with the national side.”

“But if you look at it from the point of view of Real Madrid, there weren’t really many alternatives out of there, and you are talking about somebody who has a brilliant record with the national side.”

Lopetegui has now got it all to do. He will lead a talented Spain squad for whom anything less than a semi-final appearance would be considered failure. On the other hand, expectations will only increase after his arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Author’s Take

Lopetegui is not a bad appointment for a “fourth choice”. He is a man with proven international pedigree and despite his patchy form at club level, Real Madrid clearly saw enough in the man. However, how long he will last now is completely up to his ability to manage the Madrid dressing room and navigate the background politics under Florentino Perez.


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