Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp instantly turned down an approach over the summer from Real Madrid as the La Liga giants sought a new, big name manager to replace the departing Zinedine Zidane. More than that, he was one of five who rejected Madrid.
That series of high profile managerial rejections led Los Blancos to resort to an emergency option, poaching relatively unheralded Julen Lopetegui from the Spanish national team shortly before the kickoff of the World Cup and leading to chaos in the Spain camp.
It’s a move that, increasingly, looks to have been a mistake as Lopetegui and Madrid struggle and rumours of his imminent sacking swirl in the Spanish press. And, along with that, we get stories setting out just how far down the Madrid pecking order Lopetegui was.
According to AS, Mauricio Pochettion was Madrid’s first choice, but the Tottenham manager signalled he would not force his way out and without that Madrid were unwilling to force the issue given their past history of difficult negotiations with Spurs’ Daniel Levy.
Next up were Juventus Massimiliano Allegri or Klopp. Allegri has spoken publicly about the situation previously, saying that he wasn’t rejecting Madrid, rather he was saying yes to continuing Juventus’ project of attempting to win the Champions League.
Klopp being a serious target and near the top of Madrid’s list last summer, though, is new. According to AS, the German rebuffed their approach instantly, citing his security, support, and control over a project at Liverpool he believes can lead to titles and trophies.
None of those things, it seems safe to say, would be true at Madrid, where managers are hired and fired on the whims of president Florentino Perez and serve as replaceable parts in the larger Real Madrid machine—and Reds fans won’t be shocked Klopp would reject that.
Madrid are also said to have sounded out Antonio Conte and Julian Nagelsmann before moving on to Lopetegui, who is not expected to survive the month. Real Madrid Castilla coach and former Madrid midfielder Santiago Solari is the favourite to replace him.