The footballing world was given an early shock on Thursday when Zinedine Zidane announced his decision of stepping down as coach of Real Madrid.

After winning three back-to-back UEFA Champions League titles with Los Blancos, the French manager’s decision to abruptly leave the club is an intriguing question.

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Another equally compelling question is who will succeed him as the coach of the richest club in the world football.

Here are some of the names who are touted to replace the former Ballon d’Or winner.

1. Arsene Wenger

This opportunity seems too sweet and too dreamy for Arsene Wenger. To take over the reigns of a well-established club that is filled with superstars will be appealing.

After a frustrating end to his Arsenal career, this would be the perfect way to call his time on management and have one last hurrah while tasting the success of European football glory.

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Former Arsenal manager Arsense Wenger. Photo Courtesy: Twitter

It has been a turbulent decade for the French manager and he deserves this opportunity than any other of his colleagues to showcase his talent with the whole world watching.

The only complication that can come in the way for Arsene Wenger is the timing of this announcement. If it hadn’t been this close to his own decision of stepping down, the decision to take up the job would’ve been a lot easier.

Odds:

Skybet – 6/4

Betfair – 3/1

Coral – 4/1

2. Antonio Conte

The Italian manager is currently the head of Chelsea Football Club. He has won a Premier League title and an FA cup with the Blues in his two year period.

However, his affinity with the club has come into question recently and talks of him being replaced are also catching fire.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. Photo Courtesy: DailyStar

For Conte to jump ship and coach arguably the biggest club in the world would be right down his alley of shrewd business moves.

Conte is a master tactician and a powerful force in the dressing room. His charisma can sometimes be overwhelming and can cause rifts between the players or coaches.

With big-star personalities at Real Madrid his behaviour, if he does get the job, will come under scrutiny and media attention.

Not something Real Madrid would want as their star players Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are already unsure of their future at the club.

Odds:

Skybet – 6/1

Betfair – 11/2

Coral – 6/1

3. Maurizio Sarri

The Napoli manager has garnered rave reviews for the way he had propelled his side into Serie A title contention. Sarri’s side came excruciatingly close to dismantle Juventus of their title-winning run but faltered in the end.

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Napoli Manager Maurizio Sarri. Photo Courtesy: Marca

Nevertheless, the Italian is seen as a rejuvenated force in an already talent-rich pool of European managers and showcased he can make teams reach their potential if he is given the right amount of funds and players.

He will get both these things at Real Madrid, but how sure would club president Florentino Perez be of Italian’s prowess is a question only he can answer.

Odds:

Skybet – 10/1

Coral – 10/1

4. Massimiliano Allegri

Another Italian manager makes this list, as he is responsible for Juventus to win the Serie A and Coppa Italia for four years in a row.

Allegri is yet another manager who is adept at tactics and can always tweak his formations to the strengths of his team. Well versed in understanding the opponent’s weaknesses as well, his management style has brought the Italian club massive success on the domestic front.

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Juventus Coach Massimiliano Allegri. Photo Courtesy: Twitter

Even though he took a title-winning side from Conte in 2014, his management has still helped the team perform even better.

An outside contender, yes, but Perez wouldn’t be overlooking the trophy cabinet Allegri has been able to generate in the last four years.

Odds:

Skybet – 14/1

Betfair – 16/1

Coral – 12/1

5. Joachim Low

This selection might surprise every single Real Madrid fan but if looked through an introspective eye, would be an ideal fit for the team.

He led Germany to clinch the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Doing so Low has showcased how consistently he has developed his team to be serial contenders at the international competitions.

German National Football Team coach Joachim Low. Photo Courtesy: Goal

Only two things would dispel his chances of getting the job; the fact he has had extremely little club management experience and the fact if he is even interested.

Real Madrid is a big club but the honour of managing the number 1 team in FIFA rankings is unparalleled.

However, Low has been in this job for 12 years, and if he is looking for a change and a new challenge, Madrid would be the place to be.

Odds:

Skybet – 12/1

Betfair – 8/1

Coral – 16/1

Whosoever will fill the shoes of Zinedine Zidane has a task cut off for himself. The glory and the prestige do come with the job, but so does insurmountable pressure. Nothing can prepare for the raucous noise of Santiago Bernabeu or the boos when the fans turn their backs when they don’t see their team performing.