Guess who's back

Casual Zidane, with Florentino Pérez in the foreground.
Casual Zidane, with Florentino Pérez in the foreground. / Reuters

  • Zinedine Zidane's departure was dramatic, but his return to Real Madrid 284 days later was even more extraordinary

Monday was the day a fashion statement became a football statement. Above the waist Zinedine Zidane conformed with a jacket and open-necked shirt but below, the cameras were trained from his ankle upwards.

I'm no Gok Wan but I'm pretty sure that the sockless, skinny ripped jeans with huge turnups 'look' was intentional, as if to say to the world: "I'm back, but only on my terms." It's a bit like a teenager who is bribed into going to a family gathering by telling him he can wear his plimsolls if he puts a jacket on.

Zidane's departure after claiming a record third successive Champions League title was dramatic but his return 284 days later was even more extraordinary. The season is effectively over, crowds are dwindling, and the club is in crisis. In short, Real Madrid just wasn't very interesting!

Florentino Pérez, the president, is the ring master of a circus without any amazing feats. His acts from all around the world are failing to capture the imagination. There was talk of José Mourinho returning but he no longer has that 'wow factor'.

Few expected Zidane to return from the wilderness; nobody expected him to consider returning to office during the season. It's stunning crisis management by Don Perez. He's lifted the mood and expectation in one fell swoop. He's signed up a Galáctico, owns the headlines once more and injected life into a club that was slowly dying.

A reason was never given for Zidane departing in the aftermath of beating Liverpool in Kiev. It's assumed that he had a radical plan to further the success which wasn't bought into by the president and his men.

Ten months later, Cristiano Ronaldo sold, Gareth Bale sulking and all hope of any success evaporated, it was clear that the management of Zinedine Zidane had been woefully underestimated.

"I really love this club," he declared on his second coming. He stopped short of adding "... they can't live without me".

It did look like he'd just tiptoed from a yacht, yet it didn't take him long to ditch the deck shoes and get the work boots back on at the club's training ground.

As I've touched on in this column in the past, the club requires a complete overhaul. Real need to cash in on Gareth Bale, Luka Mordric has reached his 'best before' date and Isco is a lost soul. It's going to be out with the old and in with the new. Marquee signings must be made.

Eden Hazard seems destined for Madrid, Neymar has flirted publicly in the past and Kylian Mbappé is the Holy Grail of signings.

With respect to Julen Lopetegui and Santi Solari, two excellent coaches, they don't have the clout of one of the greatest players and most accomplished managers in football history. If Zizou calls, you answer. Now the president must give him carte blanche to call whoever he wants and sign up some shirt-selling, match-winning superstars.

Zidane's sabbatical is over. It's a turn up and I'm not talking about his trousers.