Will Julen’s Real Madrid be a Decent Football Bet?

He was the biggest news in the run-up to the World Cup, and now the next chapter of Julen Lopetegui’s career is about to open, as he tries to bring the La Liga title back to Real Madrid.

Is that a good football bet? A lot depends on the players he brings in and the start he makes, but it’ll be one heck of a ride!

Lopetegui’s swift departure from his post as national team coach, just two days before the World Cup began, fired shockwaves through the football world and sent Spain’s campaign into a chaotic start, which they never really recovered from.

And his predecessor at the Bernabeu, Zinedine Zidane, sent his own waves cascading through European football, quitting as boss just after winning the Champions League. And with Cristiano Ronaldo on his way through the exit door Los Blanco’s fans will expect some good news…and fast.

Julen has big boots to fill, that’s for sure!

What does Julen bring to Los Blancos?

As a player Lopetegui was a pretty good goalkeeper, though not quite good enough for the very top. Managing just one appearance for Real Madrid and five for Barcelona he featured most in La Liga for Rayo Vallecano, making 112 starts.

As a coach his career has been equally modest to date. He has put the long hours in learning his craft as a national coach, at U19, U20 and U21 level before taking over as coach of the World Cup squad for the qualifiers, in which he won nine and drew one game.

His only domestic job was at Porto, where he spent a lot of cash on Spanish players but won nothing, and was relieved of that position in 2016, just before he took over as Spain’s head coach.

So I’d say he has a bit to prove.

What does Julen have to work with?

Well we all know what he doesn’t have to work with don’t we! Cristiano Ronaldo is off to Italy to win more silverware and with that move to Juventus all but complete there is a huge gap to fill.

And if Lopetegui is to fill the trophy cabinet at the Bernabeu he needs a good transfer window, or football betting fans might start to look elsewhere.

Reports say he may also be willing to let Gareth Bale go, with Manchester United once again tracking the Welsh Wizard. Bale has had a stop start career in Spain and has always been in Ronaldo’s shadow, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go.

A lot of football bets are up on whether Neymar will join Real Madrid this summer

Neymar rolling on the floor after he got fouled on a World Cup game

Neymar and Eden Hazard are both under serious consideration by Real Madrid and either could provide the spark needed to top the table. Hazard has been one of the best players in the EPL for years, with his pace and brilliant feet, while if Neymar can stay on his own two feet and resist the temptation to roll around on the floor every time a gust of wind catches him, he could really be the star of the league.

He isn’t Ronaldo, but he’s seven years younger.

Elsewhere, with Sergio Ramas and Raphael Varane at the back and Toni Kroos and the excellent Luka Modric in the middle, Lopetegui has a hoard of riches at his disposal.

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid

These are the two teams to beat if Lopetegui is to break his domestic managerial duck. Football betting sites have already posted Barca as odds on favourites to repeat last season’s La Liga title. But the best football bets don’t always back the favourites!

With Ronaldo on his way, does that make Lionel Messi indisputably the best player in La Liga? I’d say so, but my question is… whether he can maintain the stratospheric standards he has set over the years without his nemesis Ronaldo breathing down his neck.

Ernesto Valverde’s team won the title at a canter last season, alongside Messi, world cup finalists Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti are among their own Galactico of stars.

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has once again worked a miracle to persuade his star striker Antoine Griezmann to stay at the club and, alongside Diego Costa he will be a force to be reckoned with again. But the secret to success at the Wanda Metropolitano is not in how many they score, but how many they don’t concede.

Diego Godin and Atletico Madrid look to attract football bets in their favour when they face Real Madrid

Diego Godin celebrating Atletico Madrid’s win in the Europa League final against Marseille

Keeper Jan Oblak is among the best in the world, while Uruguay’s Diego Godin was one of the standout defenders at World Cup 2018, and conceding a mere 22 goals in the league last year kept Atletico above Real Madrid in the final table.

So good luck Julen; you might just need it!



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Analysis: What Cristiano Ronaldo’s Move to Juventus Means

Cristiano Ronaldo’s era at Real Madrid is over.

After nine years at the Santiago Bernabeu, Ronaldo is being transferred to Juventus in a deal reportedly worth €105 million.

Ronaldo—who now embarks on a new journey at Serie A where he can win a new silverware and add more accolades to his already illustrious footballing career—is set to become Juventus’ highest earner with a €30 million per annum salary for the next four years.

Several football news outlets and websites, particularly from Italy, dubbed Ronaldo’s move to the Bianconeri as the “deal of the century,” and it’s hard to blame them as the 33-year-old Portuguese striker remains one of the best and most marketable athletes on the planet.

Ronaldo described his transfer as the moment “for a new cycle” and sure enough, plenty of things is about to change with his decision to take his talents to Italy.

us takes a look at the implications of Ronaldo’s transfer to all the parties involved, as well as to the summer transfer window.

Juventus: A league of their own

As if Juventus need another superstar to dominate Italy, their acquisition of Ronaldo just separates them from the rest of the league and made the potential contenders look like pretenders—even Napoli who gave the Old Lady some challenge in their fight for a seventh straight Scudetto.

In the latest Serie A betting odds at us, Juventus are tipped as runaway leaders to win an eighth consecutive Italian title.

Furthermore, Ronaldo had already transformed the club’s finances way before the transfer. According to reports, Juventus’ market valuation rose from €665 million to €815 million after rumours surfaced that the Portuguese talisman is plotting a move to the club.

Football news: Juventus are crowned champions of Copa Italia 2018

Juventus players and coaching staff celebrates their 13th Copa Italia after a 4-0 win against AC Milan

Imagine how much Juventus is worth now that the deal is done!

Serie A and finances aside, Ronaldo also gives Juventus a legitimate chance of winning the Champions League, a trophy that proved to be too far for the team despite their Italian domination.

Juventus finished as runners-up to Barcelona in 2015 and to Real Madrid in 2017. They then failed to reach the finals last year, ironically losing to Ronaldo and his Los Blancos in the quarter-finals.

Indeed, if you can’t beat them, buy them!

Serie A, a destination for stars once again?

For an association that ranks only third behind Spain and England when it comes to domestic club competition, the arrival of football’s biggest and brightest athlete is a welcome addition.

Every league wants to be the best in the world and Ronaldo’s move lifts them up a notch in that quest. After all, it can be argued that Ronaldo was the best player in the greatest club competition on the planet.

Also, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner playing in Serie A? It has been 11 years since the league saw one of its players win the award, with footballers from La Liga dominating the voting for the better part of the last decade.

Kaka was the last Serie A player to bag the most prestigious individual honour in football, winning the trophy in 2007 while with AC Milan.

Put simply, with Ronaldo playing in the league, Serie A is back on the map as a potential destination for the best players of the Beautiful Game.

A big loss for La Liga and Real Madrid

La Liga is certainly the biggest loser of this deal.

The Spanish top flight faces stiff competition from the Premier League in the fight to provide the best football. Now, they didn’t just lose Ronaldo but also gained new competition in the form of Serie A.

For Real Madrid, they are probably celebrating from the cash windfall brought by the Ronaldo deal. However, that doesn’t erase the fact that they have a huge hole to fill in the goalscoring department.

Ronaldo finished as the second-highest scorer in La Liga in the 2017-18 campaign—scoring 26 goals even after a slow start in the competition.

Not to mention that Los Blancos now have to find a new face of the franchise, nine years after building their brand around the Portuguese.

Of course, it won’t be easy. After all, it’s hard to find a player that is as talented and desirable as Ronaldo.

Good for Barcelona, bad for El Clasico

Football news: Lionel Messi talking to Cristiano Ronaldo during the match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid

Football superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing against each other during El Clasico

Hands up if you’ll miss El Clasico!

Put simply, the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona will never be the same again.

There’s always plenty of interest whenever Real Madrid and Barcelona fight, thanks in large part to Ronaldo and Barca’s star Lionel Messi. And now that the other one is gone, fans can no longer argue who is the rightful one to be called the Greatest of All Time.

All signs point that Real Madrid will look for another scorer to replace Ronaldo and compete with Barcelona, but unless they make a move for Neymar, it’s doubtful they’ll find a player who can fill the void left by their former star.

The first domino for a transfer frenzy

What happens now to Gonzalo Higuain? Who should Real Madrid get? Is a Neymar-to-Madrid deal possible? How will other Serie A teams respond?

That’s just some of the questions raised after Ronaldo’s departure, and all of that will be answered next month before the transfer window closes.

Higuain is the odd man out in Juve and could ask to leave. And surely, there will be plenty of teams who will line up to get his services.

Neymar has long been rumoured to be a Real Madrid target, and it could be the perfect time for the club to make their move for the former Barcelona star.

However, players like Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and Kylian Mbappe are Real Madrid candidates as well; and when the biggest club in the world comes calling, it might be hard for the players not to pick up the phone.

Off to a big payday

At 33 years old and probably at the twilight of his career, Ronaldo got what he always wanted: a salary worthy of his status.

He’ll be paid like a true superstar until he’s 36 or 37 and way past his prime, something that Real Madrid never wanted to give him.

It might be an exorbitant amount for Juventus, but at least they’ll make Ronaldo happy and save themselves from incessant whining.



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Ronaldo seals Juve switch

Real Madrid have confirmed that Portugal international Cristiano Ronaldo has left the club and joined Juventus.

The 33-year-old former Manchester United star, who has penned a four-year deal with the Old Lady, has moved to Turin in a deal worth £99.2million.

Ronaldo was signed by Real for £80million in 2009 and went on to score 451 goals for the club.

During the last five seasons, Real have won four Champions League finals, including the triumph against Liverpool in May.

"For Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo will always be one of our great symbols," said a statement from Real.

"Real Madrid wants to express its gratitude to a player who has proved to be the best in the world and who has marked one of the brightest times in the history of our club and world football.

"Real Madrid will always be your home."

Juventus have won 34 Serie A titles in their history including the last seven. They held off a strong challenge from Napoli to clinch the 2017/18 title.

They have two European Cup triumphs to their name – in 1984/85 and 1995/96 – and have been beaten finalists seven times, most recently in 2017 when they lost 4-1 to Real.

Juventus are 7/1 to win the 2018/19 Champions League while Real Madrid can be backed at 13/2.

"The time has come to open a new stage in my life, that's why I asked the club to accept transferring me," Ronaldo said.

Europe Transfer News: Will Ronaldo be the First Domino to Fall?

Cristiano Ronaldo and his camp set the football world ablaze after reports surface that the Portuguese star is looking to leave Real Madrid and join Serie A giants Juventus. While nothing is official so far, there is a growing belief that the deal is all but done.

Ronaldo, indeed, could be the first domino to fall in what could be the most exciting European transfer in recent memory. After all, his move to another team and league could trigger a striker merry-go-round unlike anything we have seen before!

There have been plenty of decent transfers and signings in recent days and weeks, but the best is surely yet to come.

Here are the latest football news and transfer rumours in La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1.

Notable Transfers and Signings

Gianluigi Buffon is perhaps the only player not named Ronaldo to get a share of the transfer spotlight in Europe.

The 40-year-old Buffon is a legend in Juventus where he played 656 times in a 17-year run. However, his epic is bound to fade, just like any other story. He left Juve after winning a seventh consecutive Serie A title and eventually signed with Paris Saint-Germain via a free transfer.

According to reports, Buffon was offered an off-field role at Juve; nevertheless, he chose to keep playing and instead signed with the French Champions. The Italian great, often considered as one of the best goalkeepers of all time, is now set to battle Alphonse Areola for the starting job at Parc des Princes.

Football News: Gianluigi Buffon to leave Juventus after 17 years

Gianluigi Buffon waves to fans during Champions League match with Barcelona

Another notable name to make a change this summer is Kevin-Prince Boateng. The well-travelled Ghana international will return to Italy after Sassuolo completed his signing from German club Eintracht Frankfurt.

Boateng enjoyed a solid season in the Bundesliga, scoring six times in 31 league appearances and playing a critical role as Frankfurt fended off champions Bayern Munich to win the DFB-Pokal.

Meanwhile, after quitting international football, Radja Nainggolan joined Inter Milan in a swap deal between Roma and the Milan side.

Nainggolan famously retired from the internationals after failing to make it to the World Cup squad of Belgium. The 30-year-old, who tallied six goals and six assists in all competitions last campaign, was a crucial member of the Roma side that reached the 2017-18 Champions League semi-final.

Familiar names like Joel Robles, Daniel Didavi and Arthur Melo are also on the move. Robles, whose contract with Everton expired after the 2017-18 campaign, inked a four-year deal with La Liga club Real Betis.

Didavi, on the other hand, returned to his former club Stuttgart after two years with Wolfsburg, while Arthur completed his transfer to Barcelona.

Moreover, while not a transfer, Kylian Mbappe is now fully under contract at PSG as his loan expires. PSG triggered the French international’s permanent transfer from Monaco last February and it kicked off last July 1.

The Parisiens are obligated to pay Monaco €180 million for Monaco, but that fee seems to be a bargain now considering how the 19-year-old is playing in the World Cup. In case anyone has forgotten, Mbappe scored twice to send Argentina packing in the quarterfinals.

Who’s Next?

Well, is there any other player worth discussing here than Ronaldo?

After failing to lead Portugal to World Cup immortality, the 33-year-old still managed to grab headlines as speculations emerged that he’s looking for a way out of Real Madrid.

According to various news outlets, Juventus are close to completing a €100 million move for the world’s most popular footballer, with Ronaldo said to have agreed to personal terms. There are also speculations that his deal is four years worth €30 million per season.

In fact, the deal was so close that there is news Manchester United could no longer hijack the deal despite showing interest in bringing the striker back to Old Trafford.

Adding fuel to the speculations of Ronaldo’s possible transfer was a recent video content that Juve mistakenly published on Weibo. In the video, the Bianconeri hinted that a new player would be wearing the number 7 for them next season.

It remains to be seen whether Ronaldo’s Juventus transfer is a bluff or not. But if it’s true, it could lead to a transfer frenzy in Europe.

Other players to watch out for this summer are Sadio Mane, Willian, N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi.

Liverpool’s Mane has reportedly piqued the interest of Real Madrid, though the Reds have made it clear they have no intention of selling the Senegalese international.

Brazil midfielder Willian has been linked with Barcelona, while Kante is rumoured to be PSG’s top priority.

Sevilla, on the other hand, have their eyes on Batshuayi and could sway the former Leicester man away given Chelsea’s chaotic situation and managerial uncertainty.

Winners and Losers

If Ronaldo’s Juve change pushes through, La Liga could be left with a gaping hole. His rivalry with Lionel Messi has added another chapter to the Real Madrid-Barcelona rivalry, and his departure could change things and shift the balance of power to Barca alone.

The Catalans would be the clear winners in that regard, but La Liga and Real Madrid would lose a marketable star.

Juventus saw an increase in their stocks after Ronaldo’s transfer rumours broke out. Imagine how much it will rise if the deal comes through?

Serie A betting odds are also expected to swing back to Juve with the deal.

Players like Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala could ask to change teams or be sold with Ronaldo’s arrival, and there will undoubtedly be a bidding war if that happens.



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Kovacic ready to leave Real

Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic has confirmed that he will seek a move away from Real Madrid this summer in search of more regular first-team action.

The 24-year-old, who has featured as a substitute for the Vatreni in both of their opening two games at World Cup 2018, has been at the Bernabeu since the summer of 2015, but has made just 37 league starts in three seasons.

And the former Inter Milan schemer is keen to try his luck elsewhere and prove that he is worth a more regal starting role.

He told Marca: "I understand the situation, but because of that I believe the best thing for me would be to go to another club where I'd have the opportunity to play regularly as a starter.

"I think I can have this opportunity and it's one I want right now. Of course I am not happy when I don't play.

"I have really enjoyed these three years in Madrid, alongside some incredible team-mates and winning trophies, but I haven't been completely happy because my contribution to all of this hasn't been complete and this is something I want to change."

Real Madrid won a third straight Champions League title last season, but could only finish in third place in La Liga, ending some 17 points adrift of champions Barcelona.

Real can be backed at 6/1 to win the Champions League again next season, with Barca available at 6/1 and Bayern Munich 7/1.

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Real confirm Lopetegui appointment

Real Madrid have confirmed that Julen Lopetegui will become their new head coach once he has completed his World Cup 2018 duties with Spain.

Lopetegui has agreed a three-year contract to succeed Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu, with the latter having opted to step aside after winning a third consecutive Champions League title.

Fifty-one-year-old Lopetegui, who made one senior appearance for the club, worked with Real as coach of their B team between 2008 and 2009, before moving into the national team set-up, where he coached at three different levels.

In the summer of 2014 he was tempted back into club management with Portuguese powerhouses FC Porto, where he lasted around 18 months before being sacked.

However, within a matter of months Lopetegui was handed the top job back in his homeland, taking over in July 2016 on the retirement of Vicente del Bosque.

Since then he has led La Roja in 20 matches, of which they have won 16, drawn four and lost none.

In World Cup qualifying they dropped just two points from ten games played in finishing top of Group G, five points ahead of Italy – who went on to lose to Sweden in the play-offs.

For the finals in Russia, which start on Thursday, Spain have been drawn in Group B alongside neighbours and European champions Portugal, as well as Morocco and Iran.

Spain can be backed at 8/15 to top Group B, while they are 9/2 to be eliminated at the semi-final stage of the tournament and are 11/2 to lose in the final.

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Griezmann future still undecided

Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann says now is not the right time to speak about his future at club level, as he gets ready to try and help France win the World Cup 2018.

The 27-year-old frontman has been heavily linked with a big-money move to Barcelona, with Griezmann himself suggesting that an announcement could be made before the action in Russia gets under way.

However, that prospect now appears a little more distant, after told reporters at France's World Cup 2018 base: "I apologise. I am very sorry, but I will not be revealing my decision now.

"I know that many of you were waiting for that. However, today is not the day for that."

Griezmann is available at 12/1 to be the top goalscorer at the World Cup 2018 finals, with Argentina and Barca superstar Lionel Messi 11/1 and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku 16/1.

Meanwhile, former Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane says he is in no rush to make a decision about his next move, having opted to leave the Santiago Bernabeu following a third successive Champions League triumph.

He told Diario AS: "Right now, I am taking a break.

"I do not know what I will do after this, because at the moment the most important thing was the decision that I took. The future? We will see."

As well as their Champions League victories, Zidane led Real to the La Liga title in 2016/17, as well as UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup successes in both 2016 and 2017.

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Men of Honour: Green Makes History, Harden is MVP, Tite to Madrid?

Today’s us news round-up will be focusing on honours some of the sporting world’s best receive. If an athlete does well in a sport he chooses, he is inevitably going to be recognised by fans and peers for his superb efforts. Today’s leading men are in the front pages because of their excellence in their chosen fields.

Brazil’s Tite is gaining a lot of attention for his exemplary managerial skills. His leadership and football acumen has brought a Brazil team that felt despair during the 2014 World Cup to a level of competency that makes the Canarinha heavy favourites to lift the trophy in Russia.

In other news, James Harden gets the nod from many of his fellow NBA players, and a young American star pulled off the impossible against one of the best football teams that will play in Russia.

Will Tite get the biggest seat in Spain?

us Blog puts focus on Tite who is reportedly among top candidates for Real Madrid job.

Brazil coach Tite denies rumours linking him to Real Madrid

It’s not hard to see that the Real Madrid job is currently the biggest vacancy in European football at the moment. Every player in this star-studded roster can become key cogs in other European clubs, and they’re looking for the man that will help them achieve the impossible treble of La Liga dominance, Copa del Rey victory and a Champions League defence.

There are plenty of names that are already included in the Real Madrid sweepstakes, and each one of them are fantastic managers in their own right. Mauricio Pochettino, Massimiliano Allegri, Antonio Conte, Jurgen Klopp and Maurizio Sarri are among the names dropped by Real fans.

Tite becomes the latest name that is included in the race for the post Zinedine Zidane vacated after winning his third Champions League title versus Liverpool. He is currently going to run out of contract with Brazil in the summer, making a move to the Santiago Bernabeu highly possible.

However, the 57-year-old has denied rumours that he is already considering his future away from the club. He said that talking about anything other than Brazil’s World Cup campaign is disrespectful.

“When it is an opinion, it deserves my respect. When it is put in quotation marks, it is a lie; it is a disrespectful and lying attitude. That’s my word,” he told a pre-match news conference ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Austria.

Green makes money with superb strike against France

USA's Julian Green finds special place in us Blog for his special goal in 1-1 friendly draw against France

Julian Green scored in 44th minute in friendly vs France, the first American to do so against the 1998 World Cup champs

Few expected the United States to perform well against Russia-bound France as they played their friendly at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais. However, many were shocked to find Les Bleus actually struggling against the Stars and Stripes and were forced to settle for a draw.

While this result gives Didier Deschamps a lot of things to think about, it is important to put the spotlight on the man that made the improbable result possible: 23-year-old Greuther Furth attacker Julian Green.

The young winger corralled a poor deflection made by Djibril Sidibe and powered a low ball through Hugo Lloris and into the goal. The Americans, donning their special LGBT kits for Pride Month, were obviously elated by the sudden advantage they got.

The French were booed off by their supporters at half-time, and it took them almost the entirety of the second half before Kylian Mbappe scored the equaliser to end the game in a slightly less embarrassing note.

Zack Steffen, who has also played impressive goalkeeping during the friendly, summed up the feelings of the team’s performance during the friendly: “It was a pretty surreal game.”

Dave Sarachan is pleased with the way things have gone for USA, and it only gives their football-loving fans hope for the future. Meanwhile, the French faithful will be keeping an eye on football news to see the changes Deschamps will make.

Harden is MVP, according to NBA players

us Blog: James Harden is the MVP according to league players

NBA Players speak up. James Harden is their MVP this season

The NBA season has just finished with the Golden State Warriors sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the awards haven’t been all given yet.

The NBA Players Association have just voted who they believed is this season’s most valuable player, and the plaudit is headed to Houston Rockets guard James Harden’s front door.

This isn’t the first time Harden won the players’ MVP award: he also took home the honours during the NBPA’s inaugural awards in 2015. Russell Westbrook was the winner of the players’ MVP last season due to his outstanding performance for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Beard averaged 30.4 points, 8.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds this season and is also a leading candidate to win the regular season MVP honours. The other favourites to win the award is Cleveland Cavalier forward LeBron James and New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis.

The league will announce the actual MVP in its awards ceremony on June 25. Given the way Harden has performed for Houston this season, it would be criminal not to name him the league’s best player.



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Pochettino quashes Real rumours

Mauricio Pochettino, who signed a new five-year contract at Tottenham last week, has played down rumours linking him with Real Madrid.

The former Southampton boss is believed to be Real's first choice to succeed Zinedine Zidane, who resigned on Thursday just five days after leading the Spanish side to their third consecutive Champions League title.

Pochettino insists he is happy at Spurs and has been quick to confirm that there is no clause in his contract that would permit him to speak to the La Liga side.

The Argentine said: "When Real Madrid call you, you have to listen to them. Although in this case it doesn't depend on me. I have just signed a long contract with Tottenham and I am very happy here.

"Right now I want to focus on planning for next season and keep out of all the things that are being said. There will be lots of rumours, lots of things said, but I have no news from Real Madrid."

However, earlier this year, Pochettino refused to rule out managing Real when asked directly if he could succeed Zidane.

The 46-year-old has been in charge at Tottenham since 2014 and has guided the club to three consecutive top-three finishes and to the last-16 of the Champions League this season.

Joachim Low, the Germany manager, is thought to be another name on Real's shortlist, although he has a contract with the 2014 World Cup winners until 2022.

Pochettino is 5/4 to be Real Madrid's next permanent manager while Low can be backed at 16/1. Meanwhile, Spurs are 16/1 to win the 2018/19 Premier League title.

Zidane makes shock Real call

Zinedine Zidane has announced his shock decision to step down as Real Madrid boss, less than a week after leading the club to a third straight Champions League title.

The Frenchman was appointed as Rafael Benitez's successor in early 2016 and guided the club to European glory in each of his three attempts, as well as the 2016-17 La Liga title.

Despite his continental success, Zidane had been criticised for Los Blancos' inconsistent form in defending their league crown, as they eventually finished third in this season's standings, 17 points behind Barcelona.

The 45-year-old only signed a new contract until 2020 in January and president Florentino Perez has described the news as "totally unexpected" after a meeting with the manager on Wednesday.

Despite Saturday's 3-1 victory over Liverpool in Kiev, Real have been the centre of specualtion over the futures of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Zidane, who also played for the club between 2001 and 2006, was applauded out of his final press conference.

The former France captain says the time has come for fresh input at the Bernabeu, insisting the call is the right one for the club.

"I love this club," Zidane said. "What I think is that this team needs to continue winning but I think it needs a change, a different voice, another methodology. And that's why I took this decision.

"It's a strange moment to do so, I know, but an important one to. I had to do this for everyone."

Real are 6/1 to retain their Champions League title, while they can be backed at 5/4 to win next season's La Liga.

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