He should have a statue in Perez's garden – Real Madrid great lauds Zidane's return

Zinedine Zidane's return as Real Madrid coach less than a year after quitting was nothing short of "heroic", according to club great Jorge Valdano.

The former France international left the club shortly after guiding them to a third successive Champions League title last May, with Cristiano Ronaldo subsequently following him out of the door at the end of an era.

Things did not go to plan under Zidane's successor Julen Lopetegui, who lasted until October, and his replacement Santiago Solari was dismissed in March following Champions League elimination to Ajax.

Zidane's return did not produce a huge improvement, as Madrid still only finished third in LaLiga and 19 points adrift of champions Barcelona.

But coming back in president Florentino Perez's hour of need should – Valdano believes – earn him two statues and the right to build the squad he wants for next season.

"Zidane's return was, for me, almost an heroic act," Valdano told ESPN. "He knew it was risky, but he did it.

"The president, and the club, must be very grateful. He should have a statue here at the Santiago Bernabeu, and another in Florentino's garden.

"Just from his presence, the season ended much more peacefully than it could have. When there is no sporting director, it is the coach who must make the decisions.

"The risk he took would be in exchange for having the power to design the squad for next season.

"Things are different now from his first spell in charge, when he had clear leaders – Sergio Ramos for spirit, Luka Modric for football, Cristiano Ronaldo being decisive, and all at the height of their careers.

"Now Zidane must put together something new, with new players coming in. We don't know how they will adapt to a new city and the unique nature of this club.

"That will test him, but if anyone has won the confidence of the club, it is Zidane."

Paul Pogba, Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe and Luka Jovic are just some of the stars linked with moves to Madrid over the coming months, with many fans and commentators of the belief the squad needs serious refreshment.

Valdano is convinced Pogba would play a more central and constructive role at Madrid than at Manchester United, but the Argentine also feels the midfielder would need to be just one of five or six signings.

He added: "Pogba scores goals. He does not have so much influence in the construction of the play at Manchester United.

"But if Zidane is thinking of him for Real Madrid, for sure he would have a conducting role in the team.

"I have no idea what Zidane is thinking, but it is true that the team needs a big shake-up, they must move in the market in a much more decisive way than in recent seasons.

"There is a need for five or six really well-chosen players. You must choose very well, both the players to come in, and those who will leave."

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