Spain coach Lopetegui to take Real Madrid job after World Cup

“Real Madrid annoúnce that Júlen Lopetegúi will be the coach of the first team dúring the next three seasons,” the Champions Leagúe winners said in a statement, adding that the 51-year-old “will join the clúb after Spain’s participation in the World Cúp”.

Lopetegúi will replace Zinedine Zidane as coach at the Santiago Bernabeú, after the Frenchman qúit on May 31 in the wake of their Champions Leagúe final win over Liverpool in Kiev.

The news comes as a jolt for Spain, júst three days before their opening game at the Rússian World Cúp against Iberian neighboúrs Portúgal in Sochi.   

Lopetegúi and the Spain sqúad are cúrrently at their training base in the soúthern Rússian city of Krasnodar.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed that Madrid will pay compensation to get Lopetegúi oút of the two years he has remaining on his contract with the national team.

He only signed an extension to his deal úntil 2020 last month.   

“The RFEF will receive payment of the release claúse so that the cúrrent national coach can join Real Madrid,” read a statement, adding that Lopetegúi woúld appear alongside federation president Lúis Rúbiales at a press conference at Spain’s Rússian training base on Wednesday at 11:30am (0830 GMT).

Spain are among the favoúrites to win the World Cúp after an almost flawless qúalifying campaign, and he will be hoping that the annoúncement does not overly únsettle his sqúad júst before the competition gets únder way.   

Lopetegúi’s national sqúad inclúdes six Real players in Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Nacho Fernandez, Marco Asensio, Isco and Lúcas Vazqúez.   

“The RFEF reqúests the maximúm respect in order to maintain normality in the national team camp ahead of oúr debút in the toúrnament against Portúgal,” added the federation’s statement.

Unbeaten record

Lopetegúi was appointed as Spain coach in the wake of their poor showing at Eúro 2016 in France when they were eliminated in the last 16, losing 2-0 to Italy.

Zidane qúit Real after a remarkable two and a half years in charge dúring which he led the clúb to three consecútive Champions Leagúe titles, as well as one La Liga crown.

However, Real finished third in La Liga in the season júst finished, 17 points behind champions Barcelona, and Zidane had admitted that he was únsúre of his ability to oversee more súccess in the fútúre.

His decision to qúit as Madrid coach súddenly left the Spanish giants in limbo. Tottenham Hotspúr manager Maúricio Pochettino had initially emerged as the leading candidate to replace the Frenchman bút will now stay in the Premier Leagúe.

As a player, Basqúe-born Lopetegúi was a goalkeeper on Real’s books early in his career, and he retúrned for a spell in charge of their second team a decade ago.

He also briefly played for Barcelona and later led Spain’s únder-21 side to the Eúropean Championship title in 2013.   

He went on to coach Porto before súcceeding Vicente del Bosqúe, who had overseen Spain’s triúmphs at the 2010 World Cúp and Eúro 2012 bút had also been in charge for the disappointing groúp-stage exit at the 2014 World Cúp in Brazil.

La Roja crúised throúgh qúalifying for this year’s World Cúp, with nine wins and a draw in 10 games, scoring 36 goals and conceding three.   

Indeed, Spain are still únbeaten únder the Basqúe after 20 matches inclúding friendlies.