5 Former Players Who Could Return as Real Madrid Coach
It seems widely accepted that Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid will part company in the summer after one final objective: secure the club's 10th European Cup.
If that day does eventually arrive this summer then who will be the likely candidates to replace the Portuguese coach?
Real Madrid are one of the greatest clubs not just in football but in all sports, so there would be no shortage of willing applicants.
But of those applicants would any harbor the love and knowledge of the club that can only come with playing in the famous white shirts?
Here are five possible managers of Los Blancos that certainly fit that part of the criteria...
A managerial career that has taken turns in Denmark, Russia and Spain now seems to be gathering real pace at Premier League side Swansea.
Part of Barcelona's "Dream Team" Michael Laudrup, 48, made the controversial decision to leave for Real Madrid in 1994 after falling out with La Blaugrana manager Johan Cruyff.
In his first season at the Bernabeu he was part of a Los Blancos side which won the title and, despite spending just two years with the club, a Marca survey revealed him as Madrid's 12th best player ever as voted for by the fans.
His first coaching role was as assistant for the Denmark national team, this was followed by four years at Brondby where he won the league once and the cup twice.
He then spent just over a year in Madrid managing Getafe where he beat Barcelona and Real Madrid, led his side to the UEFA Cup quarterfinal and the Copa del Rey final all while playing attacking, expansive football.
A spell at Spartak Moscow was largely unsuccessful, and he returned to La Liga with Mallorca.
A bright start didn't continue on the island, though, as his squad was dissipated at boardroom level and, after the sacking of his assistant Erik Larssen, the Dane felt it was time to leave.
His reputation has been restored at Swansea, and if he continues in the same manner his name will be one linked not just with top jobs in England but with many across Europe.
Should Real Madrid wish to take approach Barcelona have taken recently then they may, although it is unlikely, turn to Alberto Toril.
The 39-year-old came through the youth system at Real Madrid, playing for the B team but making just two first team appearances before seeking his football elsewhere.
Spells at Celta, Espanyol and Albacete followed before taking a role managing the youth setup at Racing Ferrol in 2002 when he was just 28.
He has since worked with the youth teams at Albacete and Real Madrid before being given the opportunity to manage Real Madrid Castilla in 2011.
In his first season in charge he won promotion to Segunda A where his side currently sit just above the relegation places.
Aitor Karanka—Jose Mourinho's assistant—would be another option should the club wish to pursue the in-house route.
The 39-year-old played over 100 games in the Madrid white between 1997 and 2002.
Perhaps it is stretching it to include 52-year-old Rafa Benitez in this list, but he appears a very real candidate to replace Jose Mourinho and did spend almost 10 years representing Madrid where he peaked in the B team.
After an early retirement and lots of coaching experience, his first proper managerial job was once again with Madrid, managing Castilla between 1993 and 1995.
Since then La Liga titles have been won with Valencia and a Champions League with Liverpool where he spent six years at the helm.
Reports this weekend suggest he told his players he will still be at Stamford Bridge next year, although at Chelsea anything is possible.
Whether Los Blancos fans would like him in charge is another thing, but Benitez is a genuine candidate should Mourinho depart in the summer.
Vicente del Bosque
Vicente del Bosque has led Spain to World Cup and European Championship glory since 2008, but would the 62-year-old be tempted by one last foray into club management?
The Spaniard played for Real Madrid over 300 times during the 70's and 80's as a tough defensive midfielder and also acquired 18 international caps for Spain.
His managerial career started with Real Madrid Castilla before taking over first-team duties for a couple of months in 1994, two games in 1996 and then permanently in 1999.
In a four-year spell in the Bernabeu's top job, Del Bosque won both La Liga and the Champions League on two occasions.
It is those successes in Europe that could prompt the clubs board to want him back should they fail to secure their tenth European title this season.
Although, with the World Cup next summer it is questionable whether the former favorite would be prepared to return until after then.
The only one on this list without direct managerial experience, you get the impression Zinedine Zidane isn't one for working his way through the leagues but may be interested in a top job.
One like the hot seat at Real Madrid perhaps?
A world record signing from Juventus, Zidane was the heart beat of the Galactico era at Los Blancos playing over 200 games for the club.
Before ending his career with the Spanish champions in 2006, the former French international had won La Liga, the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup.
In 2009 he was announced as adviser to Florentino Perez, in 2010 he was appointed as special adviser to the first team at the club and in 2011 he was named as Real Madrid's new sporting director.
He has now relinquished that role, but with Mourinho rumored to be departing in the summer the wild card choice of Zidane, now 40, may prove popular with the Bernabeu devotees.