Roberto Martinez favourite to land Real Madrid job after key figures in the dressing room were opposed to the appointment of Antonio Conte
- Roberto Martinez is the shock leading candidate to land the Real Madrid job
- Antonio Conte had looked certain to take over from the sacked Julen Lopetegui
- His disastrous four-month reign ended after Madrid lost 5-1 against Barcelona
- The former Everton manager’s stock has never been higher after the World Cup
- Leading dressing room figures were said to be against appointing Conte
Roberto Martinez is the shock leading candidate to become the new manager of Real Madrid.
The former Everton manager’s stock has never been higher after he guided Belgium to a third-place finish at the World Cup and he now has an outstanding chance to land the biggest job in club football.
It had seemed almost certain that former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte would take over from Julen Lopetegui, whose disastrous four-month reign ended after Madrid were trounced 5-1 by Barcelona at the weekend but there was a dramatic twist late on Monday night.
Roberto Martinez is the shock leading candidate to replace Julen Lopetegui at Real Madrid
Sportsmail understands that key figures within Madrid’s dressing room were opposed to the appointment of the Italian which prompted the club’s hierarchy to scrap that plan.
That now means Martinez could be given the opportunity to revive the campaign of the reigning Champions League holders and he is the favourite to become the next permanent manager.
Madrid have not yet made a formal approach to Martinez’s long-term advisor Chris Farnell nor have they been in contact with the Belgian FA to speak about releasing the 45-year-old from his contract, which runs until after Euro 2020.
Martinez does not have a release clause in the terms he agreed in May and Belgium would be loathe to lose him so soon after his assistant Thierry Henry quit to take over as manager of Monaco; Madrid’s task, therefore, would not be straightforward.
The opportunity to lead Belgium was something that fascinated Martinez and he embraced the challenge, uprooting his young family from their home in Lancashire to a base outside Brussels.
Lopetegui’s disastrous four-month reign ended after Madrid were trounced 5-1 by Barcelona
Martinez’s stock has never been higher after he led Belgium to third place at the World Cup
He has been linked with jobs before but none have had the prestige of Real Madrid and if he is to return to club management, there could be no bigger stage than the Bernabeu. Though he was born in Catalonia, his heritage would not provide an obstacle to him being recruited.
If Martinez was to be appointed, there could potentially be a spin-off further down the line as he has a strong relationship with Eden Hazard and built his team at the World Cup to get the best out of the Chelsea forward.
That decision was significant as a large percentage of Belgians – primarily the country’s Flemish speakers – wanted Martinez to give a platform to Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne but he was adamant Hazard would scale new heights.
‘He is one of the world’s most complete footballers and you could build a project around him,’ Martinez said after Belgium returned from Russia.
For the moment, though, Santiago Solari has been placed in caretaker charge and his first game will be Wednesday night’s Copa Del Rey tie against Melilla, which Madrid would be expected to win comfortably.
‘I am very excited and very satisfied,’ Solari said. ‘Coaching Madrid is a great opportunity. This is a squad full of champions and warriors.’
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