Spain coach Julen Lopetegui will take over as Real Madrid boss after the World Cup.
The 51-year-old, who has in charge of the national team for the past two years, has agreed a three-year contract at the Bernabeu. The move comes as a surprise, with Lopetegui not featuring prominently among the host of managers linked with the role since the departure of Zinedine Zidane days after Madrid’s 3-1 victory over Liverpool in the Champions League final . The France legend subsequently took the decision to step down, and a replacement has now been found, though expectations are unlikely to be any lower.
Lopetegui succeeded Vicente del Bosque as Spain coach in 2016. The former goalkeeper made a sole league appearance for Madrid as a player and later turned out for rivals Barcelona. A statement read: “Julen Lopetegui will be the coach of Real Madrid after the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Real Madrid CF announces that Julen Lopetegui will coach the first team for the next three seasons.
“Julen Lopetegui will join the club after the participation of the Spanish team in the World Cup, after two years leading the national team.”
Among his first tasks will be resolving the future of Gareth Bale, with the Wales forward unhappy with his limited playing time under Zidane and in a powerful position after scoring twice off the bench in the Champions League final.