Few soccer managers have the resume of Zinedine Zidane. Not only was the former midfielder a Ballon d’Or winner and one of the finest players of his generation, he is a three-times Champions League winner and a Spanish champion as a coach having succeeded over two separate spells in the Real Madrid dugout.
Despite this, Zidane has been out of work for eight months. The 49-year-old has been linked with a number of positions around European soccer, but has so far resisted the urge to get back into the game. Instead, Zidane has spent the 2021/22 season posting images of him playing padel and walking his dog to his Instagram account.
At some point, though, it will surely be the case that Zidane lands another job. Manchester United were strongly linked with the Frenchman following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal in November. Zidane, however, passed on the opportunity to take over at Old Trafford – which may prove to be a wise decision given the number of issues at the Premier League club.
Paris Saint-Germain has also been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Zidane. This would see the former midfielder return to his homeland, although Zidane’s close links with Marseille, where he was born and grew up, could be an obstacle to his appointment at the Parc des Princes in the French capital.
There is, however, good reason to believe Zidane would be a good fit for PSG. This is a club that has struggled to mould their world class players into an effective team unit with egos something of a problem in the dressing room. Zidane was able to handle all these things during his time at Real Madrid manager.
Of course, Mauricio Pochettino is currently in place as PSG manager, but the Argentine’s future has been the subject of much discussion recently with Manchester United believed to be interested in taking him to Old Trafford. If that were to happen, Zidane would surely be in PSG’s thinking. This might be his most realistic route back into elite level management.
Zidane has previously hinted at his desire to coach Juventus at some point in his managerial career. The Frenchman spent five years in Turin as a player and is still held in the highest esteem at the Allianz Stadium. What’s more, Juventus need reinvigoration after only finishing fourth in Serie A last season and Zidane would give the club a shot in the arm.
Unlike at PSG where there is already a group of players capable of winning the biggest prizes and honours, though, Juventus are at the start of a rebuild. It may years for the Bianconeri to pull themselves back to the top of the Italian game, never mind the European game, and Zidane’s skills have never been in constructing a team from scratch. Now might not be the right time for him to return to Turin.
Many would like to see Zidane test himself in the Premier League, where several of the sport’s best coaches currently ply their trade. However, the 49-year-old must be careful to pick the right team. At Manchester City or Liverpool, for instance, Zidane would be a tactical misfit. Manchester United, like Juventus, need a manager who can rebuild their squad.
In theory, Chelsea might have the right identity as a club for Zidane to succeed, but it was only last May that Thomas Tuchel delivered European glory to Stamford Bridge. It seems unlikely that the German coach will be going anywhere any time soon even as the Blues have struggled to live up to their billing as Premier League title challengers.
Elsewhere in London, Mikel Arteta’s stock as Arsenal manager is as high as it has ever been while Antonio Conte hasn’t long been appointed at Tottenham Hotspur. That Conte is now at Spurs, though, underlines how the Premier League has become home to the great and good of soccer management in recent years. It would be understandable if Zidane is feeling a pang of F.O.M.O.
When so many other managers jump into jobs without much consideration for whether or not the position is right for them, Zidane should be applauded for waiting for the perfect role. Of course, it helps the Frenchman has nothing left to prove as a player or a coach. He has already achieved so much in the game. At the right club, though, and at the right time, Zidane could still achieve more.