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Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Arsene Wenger Reportedly Wanted by Real Madrid

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2018

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, left, and Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte watch from the sidelines during the English FA Cup final soccer match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Wembley stadium in London, Saturday, May 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press

Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and Arsene Wenger are Real Madrid's primary targets to replace caretaker manager Santiago Solari at Real Madrid, ahead of a possible move for Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino next summer, football analyst Ian McGarry has said on the podcast The Transfer Window (h/t Chelsea" target="_blank">Jack Wilson of the Daily Express).

McGarry said all three have been sounded out since Solari has taken temporary charge in the wake of Julen Lopetegui's dismissal:

"Solari clearly does not have the status, the superstar credibility that [Zinedine] Zidane has. He's not a guy who walks into the Real Madrid dressing room and commands instant respect. I think what we're seeing is a holding candidate for 14 days.

"At that point a lot of negotiating will have been done, a lot of talking to people like Mourinho, Wenger, certainly to Conte, about the possibility of them taking over until the end of the season."

McGarry believes whoever gets the job now would merely be a placeholder before president Florentino Perez brings in Pochettino next summer.

Pochettino may be Real's ultimate target.
Pochettino may be Real's ultimate target.Rui Vieira/Associated Press

McGarry thinks Perez wants someone in charge until then so that he will have "six, seven months to schmooze" Pochettino and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy "to get Pochettino into the job by the start of the 2019 season."

The idea that Pochettino will eventually swap north London for the Spanish capital isn't so fanciful. He admitted during the summer, "When Real Madrid call you, you have to listen," per AS (h/t The Independent).

More recently, Matt Law and Sam Dean of the Telegraph reported senior Spurs stars are worried Pochettino will move on at the end of the season.

At the moment, Pochettino remains committed to the Lilywhites, so Real have to look for an alternative. Of the three names touted by McGarry, Mourinho appears the most unlikely since he is still under contract with Manchester United.

Former Real boss Mourinho still has work to do at United.
Former Real boss Mourinho still has work to do at United.Dave Thompson/Associated Press

The 55-year-old was in charge of Real for three years from 2010 to 2013 and won one La Liga title and one Copa del Rey. While his team also reached the UEFA Champions League semi-final three years running, Mourinho's tenure with Los Merengues wasn't considered a major success, amid controversy on the touchline and complaints about the style of play.

Delivering success with an expansive, attractive style of play is the minimum requirement at Real. It's why there have to be doubts about Conte's suitability after the Italian was often thought to prize pragmatism over style during two years at Chelsea, during which he won the Premier League and FA Cup.

In terms of fit, Wenger is the most intriguing candidate. The former Arsenal boss is noted for insisting his sides play in an expressive way, while bringing through young players has never been an issue for the Frenchman.

Wenger, who stepped down after 22 seasons in charge of the Gunners this summer, would likely work wonders with promising youngsters Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior.

Wenger is being linked with more than one European giant, including AC Milan.
Wenger is being linked with more than one European giant, including AC Milan.Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

The 69-year-old has turned down Real twice previously, according to The Sun's Martin Lipton. However, he would surely find it tough to do so again and forfeit the chance to add the Champions League trophy missing from his distinguished CV.

If Real are keen, Wenger faces a tricky decision amid rumours he is in talks to take over at Serie A giants AC Milan. Those talks are said to be "advanced," per France Football (h/t Metro's Coral Barry).

The Rossoneri would likely offer more job security than notoriously ruthless Real, where managers rarely last long, regardless of results or reputation.

It's still a job most of the big names want, though, so Perez should have little problem attracting a marquee gaffer.

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