Next Real Madrid manager odds and contenders: Who will replace Zinedine Zidane?

Daniel Zeqiri
The race is on to replace Zinedine Zidane

Once surprise had subsided following Zinedine Zidane's decision to step down as Real Madrid head coach, attention quickly turned to who replaces him at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The job is an unusual proposition for a few reasons. Firstly, new managers are almost always tasked with restoring a team who have fallen below expectations - that is not the case with a team who have won four Champions Leagues in five seasons. 

Secondly, the new man will need to be deferential to the club's unique politics and culture, led by President Florentino Pérez.

The manager - in reality the head coach - will not be able to shape transfer policy in his own image and there are historic expectations about how a Real Madrid side should play. 

The job has been seen as a viper's nest  - Real famously sacked Vicente del Bosque after winning La Liga - and the new man once again has plenty to live up to

Arsene Wenger (free agent) Odds: 3/1 

The romantic choice. It would quite startling if the man Arsenal, in the final analysis, decided was no longer at the vanguard of coaching joined a club with bigger resources, European pedigree and expectations a few months later. An irony too, if Wenger was to join a club whose very purpose in recent times has been winning the Champions League, given that the lack of old big ears is the one black mark on the great man's CV. 

What next for Arsene Wenger - the departing Arsenal manager's possible destinations

There is a case to be made however, that Wenger's light-touch management could be ideally suited to managing one of Europe's elite teams. Going back to the early 2000s, Wenger's main strength was always cultivating an atmosphere in which players could fully express their talent. Without a core of world-class players (Campbell, Cole, Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp, Henry) who could find solutions on the pitch for themselves, there was always a sense that the Arsenal teams of the late-Wenger era needed more hands-on coaching and guidance. 

This Real is more alike to the mature Arsenal sides of his early days however, with the notable addition of some European medals. It is an alluring prospect, but with the team close to the end of it's cycle and little to be gained, Wenger might be well advised to steer clear.

Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham Hotspur)

Odds: 4/1

Early reports suggested Pochettino is Perez's first-choice, but any attempt to prise him away from Spurs is likely to be protracted and messy. The Argentine signed a £8.5million-a-year deal last week that runs to 2023, and Tottenham are on the brink of a historic move to their new stadium. Daniel Levy will be desperate to keep him, and while it is fair to assume Pochettino is attracted to the idea of managing the European champions, he too might feel he owes a debt of gratitude to Spurs. 

Qualifying for the Champions League in three successive seasons with England's sixth-biggest budget is an impressive body of work, but it would be intriguing to see how Pochettino's methods are received at Real. The former Southampton manager has done much of his best work with younger players who have a point to prove, and will put in the hard yards required in an intense, pressing team. His ability to handle superstar egos is another unknown - Real managers must be very careful about who their pick their fights with. 

The best coaches adapt to their surroundings, however. Real are also an ageing team, and if they decide to rip it up and start again Pochettino might be the perfect man to rebuild with a new generation. 

Guti (Real Madrid youth coach)

Odds: 5/1 

Promoting Zidane proved a masterstroke, and Real could look to replicate his success by throwing the keys to youth team coach and legendary player Guti. The former attacking midfielder has been working with the Juvenil A team, winning a Copa del Rey and Copa de Campeones double, as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Uefa Youth League. 

Guti in his playing days at Real Madrid Credit: Reuters

Zidane was managing the B team before taking the reigns however, so this could be too much of a leap for Guti and would certainly be a gamble. Surely they could survive one season without winning the Champions League, though? 

Antonio Conte (Chelsea...for now)

Odds: 7/1 

Undoubtedly has the coaching credentials and ability to do the job, but does he possess the diplomatic nous to survive in the Spanish capital? Though his Chelsea future remains unresolved, his relationship with the club's hierarchy soured last summer due to his handling of Diego Costa and differences of opinion about transfers. That spells danger for his job prospects at Real, where power lies away from the dugout. 

His intense double-sessions and emphasis on sprinting drills could also be received with all the warmth of a Siberian winter. Conte's strength as a coach with Chelsea and Italy has been getting a lot from a little, making a dispirate group of a players more than the sum of their parts. You cannot pull-off an underdog routine at Real Madrid. 

Revealed: The inside story of how Antonio Conte's reign at Chelsea turned sour

Maurizio Sarri (Napoli...for now)

Odds: 8/1

Another strange situation, with Carlo Ancelotti publicly confirmed as Napoli's new manager amid Chelsea's interest in Sarri, but no deal agreed to trigger Sarri's official exit from the club. The eccentric coach's Napoli side pushed Juventus and the Scuddetto race until the final weeks of the season, playing an style of football more recognisably Spanish than Italian.

Napoli pressed intensely, were committed to playing out from the back, and combined that with lightning quick counter-attacking through Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens. Pep Guardiola named Napoli as the team he most enjoyed watching last season. Perhaps a little too combustible, particularly after the calm, steely reserve of Zidane.

Massimiliano Allegri (Juventus)

Odds: 11/1

Heavily linked with the Arsenal job, Allegri appears to have committed himself to another year at Juventus following discussions with the club. The Real job is rather more attractive than guiding Arsenal back into the top four however, so the Italian could be tempted. 

In Allegri's favour is his experience of following a hugely successful manager when he replaced Conte at Juventus. Four successive league and cup doubles have resulted as well as two Champions League finals - Conte never got past the quarter-finals. Allegri is not dogmatic about any style of play, his speciality seems to be fine tuning top-level teams to get them across the winning line. 

Could Max Allegri's vision be ideally suited to Real Madrid? Credit: Getty Images

“I could never be a coach who mainly focuses on tactics or analytics because I am more instinctive," said Allegri. “The coach, in my opinion, bases his decisions on sensations, on perceptions. Otherwise it would be enough to sit in front of the computer and football would be like a PlayStation. And that is not what I am." 

Sound like a Real Madrid manager, to you?

Joachim Low (Germany)

Odds: 25/1 

Another manager who signed a new contract with his current employers only a few weeks ago. Retaining the World Cup with Germany might tempt him to 'do a Zidane' and walk out after a historic achievement, but Germany are confident he will stay. Jumping over the hurdles of Champions League knock-out football bears similarity to the rhythms of international tournaments, and Low has shown he can mould a collection of supremely talented players into a cohesive whole. 

World Cup kits ranked

Odds via Betfair/Paddypower and correct on June 4.