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What does Zidane’s departure from Real Madrid mean for Chelsea?

Bombshell and the aftershocks are just starting.

Real Madrid Celebrate After Victory In The Champions League Final Against Liverpool Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

As one of the biggest clubs in the world, everything that Real Madrid do, want to do, or even think about doing is is bound to have repercussions across the football world. That’s doubly true when it’s an unexpected development, one that perhaps no one but the man himself saw coming.

So when yesterday morning, Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane decided to put the phrase “quit while you’re ahead” into practice and resign, just five days after winning the Champions League for the third season in a row, a veritable seismic shock traveled across the European landscape.

Among those potentially affected by the aftershocks are Chelsea Football Club, and specifically Antonio Conte, Eden Hazard, and Thibaut Courtois.


Managerial situation

The fact that Real Madrid don’t have a coach could either have an extremely positive or an extremely negative impact on Chelsea. If it’s assumed that Antonio Conte is set to leave and the relationship between the board and Conte is irreparable, Perez could do a lot worse than appointing a serial winner like Conte as his next manager.

Champions League is already Madrid’s playground and hiring a league winning specialist like Conte for their squad, which has the mental fortitude and capability to win against any opponent in Champions League, could prove to be a masterstroke. Conte has proven that given the resources, he is capable of winning anything and at Real, that’s exactly what he would get.

Given Chelsea’s intentions, this would also be beneficial to the Blues’ bottom line, as Real hiring Conte would save Chelsea between £9-€20m, depending on which reports we go with. If Conte takes a new job, Chelsea no longer have to pay his full severance. In fact, backed by Real’s financial might, Chelsea could probably sack Conte and his entire staff without incurring any significant costs.

Unfortunately, there is a darker timeline as well. It’s the one where Chelsea sack Conte and then get gazumped for Maurizio Sarri and end up with Laurent Blanc or Avram Grant instead. (Zidane himself may or may not want to take a brief break before returning to football management or football, in general.)

There is a version of that where Sarri ends up going to Real instead of Chelsea so the Blues and Conte patch things up and we live happily ever after ... but this isn’t an inspirational sports movie and there are no happy endings in real life.


Transfers

Eden Hazard has been linked with Real Madrid ever since he stepped foot in Stamford Bridge in 2012, and over the past 2.5 seasons, there was the added motivation of the Chelsea talisman wanting to work with his idol, Zidane. The respect was expressly and obviously mutual, and it was perhaps the biggest reason why we had to constantly pay attention to those rumors. With Zidane out of the picture, Hazard’s chances of staying for his next big contract (and thus practically the rest of his career) have just increased! Hurray!

This won’t be the only thing to influence Hazard’s decision, regardless of whether that’s staying at Chelsea (who will be the next manager might play a role) or leaving for Real (Champions League ambitions remain), but it’s certainly helpful.

On the flip side, we can probably take down the already unlikely Gareth Bale rumors a notch. One of the biggest reasons behind Bale’s decision to leave Real Madrid was his fractured relationship with Zidane and the lack of minutes he has received. A new manager will bring a new regime and new ideas, and that may be enough of an incentive for Bale to stay (or he might look at this bank accounts and decide that €600k per week is a pretty good reason to stay).

Conversely, the likes of Karim Benzema and Keylor Navas — both Zidane favorites — could now be more likely to leave. The former might be replaced by wantaway Bayern star Robert Lewandowski (there goes our long-shot) and the latter might be replaced by either Thibaut Courtois (with whom Chelsea have not tried to negotiate an extension since the winter) or Alisson Becker (whom Chelsea have identified as the primary target to replace Courtois).


Of course, anywhere between none of this or all of this may or may not happen. For now, all of this is speculation and conjecture, but when Real Madrid are on the move in the transfer market, everyone else just sits back and makes way. Generally speaking, what Real want is what Real get. Zidane’s resignation has set many wheels in motion, the impacts of which will soon be felt across Europe.

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