Pep Guardiola Reportedly Approached by Real Madrid Before Rafa Benitez Sacking

Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2016

Bayern Munich's Spanish head coach Pep Guardiola looks on during a press conference on December 8, 2015 at the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, on the eve of the UEFA Champions League group stage F football match between bayern Munich and Dinamo Zagreb.
  / AFP / STR        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
STR/Getty Images

Pep Guardiola was reportedly sounded out by Real Madrid as a potential successor for Rafael Benitez ahead of the former Liverpool manager's sacking on Monday.

After an uninspiring seven months in charge at the Bernabeu, Benitez was relieved of his duties and replaced by Zinedine Zidane, per BBC Sport.

However, Guardiola—the current Bayern Munich manager and former Barcelona boss—was reportedly approached to be Benitez's successor some time before the axe eventually fell, per Spanish football journalist Graham Hunter on BBC Radio 5live:

It's a fact that six weeks ago they (Madrid) approached him and asked him "would you take over?". That underlines the fact that Pep is seen as the best appointment by every single club. 

It says something about Madrid that they could get it so wrong, that one of the great anti-Madridistas was approached by them.

Guardiola, 44, has already announced that he will leave his role at Bayern at the end of the 2015-16 season, and it is, as yet, unclear where he will move next.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have all been mooted as possible destinations for the man who won two Champions Leagues and three La Liga titles in his four seasons in charge at Barca, per ESPN FC's Raphael Honigstein.

However, predominantly because of his links with Barcelona—he also spent the majority of his playing career at the Camp Nou—Real have barely been mentioned as a potential destination for the Spaniard.

And, as noted by Hunter, the fact that Los Blancos even approached him to take over from Benitez is indicative of the scattershot approach the Madrid giants have to appointing managers.

Given his past associations with Los Blancos as a player, assistant and reserve team manager, Real are undoubtedly hoping that Zidane can be to Real what Guardiola was to Barca.

Although there is clearly no guarantee of that, per the Times' Rory Smith:

However, the Frenchman will be a natural and welcome sight in the Real dugout, not something that would be true had Guardiola taken the job.

Such is his association with Barca that the very thought of Guardiola managing Real is ludicrous, something apparently obvious to all but the Madrid hierarchy.