Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde has backed under-fire Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari, insisting that he is a “good coach” despite his side’s recent struggles.
As reported by Goal, Madrid are lining up Jose Mourinho as interim boss until the end of the season with Argentine Solari set to lose his job following a dismal week in the Spanish capital.
Zinedine Zidane is another who has been linked with a return to the Santiago Bernabeu, with a decision having already been made by the Madrid board that Solari will not be in charge for the new season.
Los Blancos were dumped out of the Champions League by Ajax on Tuesday, as the 13-time European champions were sensationally routed 4-1 on their own patch.
That ended Madrid’s dominance of the competition that had seen them win the last three titles in a row, while they had also suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to Barcelona just three days before – a result that leaves them 12 points off their rivals at the league’s summit.
To compound their terrible recent run, Real began the week by being dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Barca with an aggregate scoreline of 4-1.
The three successive home losses have unsurprisingly led to speculation surrounding Solari’s future, and Goal understands that Mourinho could even replace him at the start of next week.
Regardless of who Valverde has to contend with for the rest of this season, and perhaps the following campaign, the 55-year-old believes he will be facing one of the world’s top managers.
Asked about Zidane and Mourinho, the Barca head coach told reporters: “They’re good coaches and I have no doubt about that, as they’ve demonstrated it. Just like Solari is as well.”
The Catalans could move 10 points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table should they beat Rayo Vallecano on Saturday and Atleti lose to Leganes in the day’s earlier game.
As for Los Blancos, they travel to Real Valladolid on Sunday, with the reigning European champions sitting third in the table, five points behind Diego Simeone’s men.
As well as the uncertainty regarding Solari’s future, Goal understands that Sergio Ramos’s future is up the air following a row with Florentino Perez after the defeat to Ajax.