Santi Solari has lost the support of the Real Madrid hierarchy and will be sacked as manager when the club settle on a replacement, sources have told ESPN FC.
Solari is now effectively an “interim manager” after Madrid bosses took the decision to remove him following his side’s elimination from the Champions League round-of-16 stage in a 4-1 loss to Ajax on Tuesday.
The defeat meant the 13-time European champions are out of the running for all major trophies this season, with the La Liga title well out of sight and their Copa del Rey campaign brutally ended by arch rivals Barcelona last month.
The board are ready to move ahead with Solari’s departure, sources have told ESPN, but have not found a viable candidate to take over, which has delayed his dismissal.
Sources say the club’s board have spent the last 24 hours conducting a frantic search for the right person to take control until the end of the season, with an eye on the next phase of the club’s future.
Club president Florentino Perez and other members of the board conducted an emergency meeting at the Bernabeu in which the option of changing manager was discussed. The meeting lasted well into the early hours of Friday morning, but when it ended the board had still not identified an obvious candidate.
Most would rather not wait until the summer to get rid of Solari with 12 La Liga matches left for the team to ensure their participation in the Champions League next season. Real Madrid sit third in the table on 48 points, six clear of Getafe in fourth.
Former managers Zinedine Zidane and Jose Mourinho have both emerged as possible successors to Solari.
It is thought Zidane — who won three successive Champions League trophies during his reign and still lives in Madrid — would likely reject a return to the Bernabeu, but Mourinho — who was in charge from 2010 to 2013 and won La Liga — is the more likely option to become the club’s next manager.
His name began to surface more than a week ago when Real were humbled in that 3-0 defeat to Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey semifinals.
Sources say the Portuguese is not the most attractive option for some of the Real Madrid board, with certain directors worried his appointment would further divide an already turbulent fanbase.
But their doubts conflict with a desire to install a “firm hand” which the board believes is needed to restore order in an out-of-control dressing room.
Other potential targets including Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp are unlikely to leave their jobs before the summer, which could leave Mourinho as the club’s only realistic option.