Rafael Benitez has been sacked as manager of Real Madrid and will be replaced by Zinedine Zidane.
The 55-year-old signed a three-year contract with the club as recently as June and departs with his side only four points off league leaders and local rivals Atletico.
Benitez also guided Madrid to the knockout stages of the Champions League, where they will face Roma after topping a group including Paris Saint-Germain.
Real president Florentino Perez confirmed the change of manager in a press conference on Monday evening where he said: “I invite you all here today to announce that we have terminated the contract of Rafa Benitez.
“I would like to make it clear that he is a great professional.
“He [Zidane] is one of the greatest players of all time. Zidane, you are from this moment, the coach of Real Madrid.”
It has been a tumultuous season for Benitez, who missed out on the chance to claim the Copa del Rey after an administrative error saw the ineligible Denis Cheryshev named in the starting lineup, causing Madrid to be thrown out of the competition.
Undoubtedly the low point of his reign came in the Clasico, when his side were dismantled by Barcelona in a 4-0 defeat. The loss led to reports of player discontent at the Santiago Bernabeu, with star forward Cristiano Ronaldo among those alleged to be unhappy under Benitez.
Zinedine Zidane, currently coach of reserve side Castilla, has been appointed as Benitez’s successor at the club and the former Los Blancos star said he would do everything he could to get the club back to winning ways.
“I thank the club and the president for giving me the opportunity to train the club. It’s the best club in the world and the best fanbase,” he said.
“I want to do my very best to ensure the club has a trophy at the end of the season. Tomorrow is when the work starts.
“It’s an emotional day, even more emotional than the day I signed for the club.”
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