The domestic season is over and Jose Mourinho has left Real Madrid for pastures new, but the furore, now somewhat diluted, over Iker Casillas' demotion to Bernabeu benchwarmer continues to rumble on. With Mourinho leaving for the Premier League and Chelsea, most expect "Saint Iker" to return as Madrid's No. 1 next season, regardless of who is named as Mou's successor. Jose had his reasons for dropping Casillas in the latter half of last season, but plenty of things pointed to a personal falling-out as the main one.
It seems Zinedine Zidane has not been the only representative of Real Madrid indulging in a spot of tapping up this past week. While the Frenchman has been busy acting as Gareth Bale's career advisor, it seems that Alvaro Morata, Dani Carvajal and Nacho Fernandez have been having a little word in Isco's ear. And it seems that Isco has been blushing and cocking his knee at the sweet nothings being whispered by his Spain under-21 teammates. "They're being pretty insistent," the midfielder said after scoring a wonder goal for Spain Saturday in a 3-0 win over Norway in the semifinals of the European Championship in Israel.
Parents, huh? They're a vital part of anyone's life. They raise you, look after you, play a part in shaping your life and eventually let you free into the big wide world to lead a life of your own. They're still a big part of your life thereafter -- of course they are. Sometimes, however, you just want them to take a back a seat, to not get involved and let you sort things out for yourself. Just ask Edinson Cavani, whose parents have become almost the centrepiece of his transfer away from Italian club Napoli over the last few days.
Florentino Perez and his staff at the Santiago Bernabeu may be busy trying to seal a deal for the club's successor to Jose Mourinho, but the Blancos president is set for talks with another potentially crucial cog in Madrid's near and not-so-near future this week. Zinedine Zidane is a Madrid legend. One of the best players of his time. One of the best players to ever play the beautiful game. Since his retirement, the Frenchman has returned to the club in an off-the-field capacity, something that was put on the back burner during Mourinho's three-year spell in charge in the Spanish capital.
Could Jose Mourinho be on the verge of doing Real Madrid an unlikely favor? The manner of his departure and some acerbic observations since -- "Inter and Chelsea have been the two big passions of my career" -- have made the prospect of an entente cordiale with the former Bernabeu coach fairly remote. Mourinho said all the right things when he departed for Chelsea, even ending a brief statement with a "Hala Madrid", but there was little genuine affection from either party when the inevitable divorce papers were issued.
Alvaro Morata, Jese Rodriguez and Daniel Carvajal. Three players who've all been in the headlines in recent weeks, and three players who push the question: How will Real Madrid's cantera come into the new manager's thinking? Los Blancos' youth set-up hit the headlines largely for the wrong reasons last season, with Jose Mourinho, in response to criticism by the media for not giving players from Castilla a chance in the first team, questioning its success in providing top young talent to progress through to the senior side.
In the second least-surprising development at Real Madrid in the last couple of weeks, Florentino Perez was invested as president of the club on Tuesday at a brief ceremony in the Bernabeu's VIP suite. "We have returned to the habitat in which we belong but I want more, like Santiago Bernabeu, who was insatiable," Perez told board members in his acceptance speech. - 'Pope' Perez geared for third term But more of what? The Real chief was quick to point out that "Madrid has the highest income in the world," adding that sponsorship alone had increased ten-fold during his 2009-13 tenure.
Many of Spain's top football writers will be glad to see Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, and in La Liga, after the Portuguese took control of his last match in charge of Los Blancos in the 4-2 victory over Osasuna on Saturday. The soon-to-be-named Chelsea boss has had a tough time of things in the Spanish media, especially this season, and the feeling of dislike is mutual. The Special One, no doubt, will be glad to be in his more "loved" surroundings, relatively, of the English Premier League and Stamford Bridge come next season.
It was always going to be a match played out more in the hearts and minds of Madridistas than on the field, where neither Real Madrid nor Osasuna had any reason to turn up other than the obligations of the fixture list. Surely enough, a half-empty Bernabeu was split fairly evenly between those who will rue the day Jose Mourinho left the club, and those who have been praying for it for much of the season. A swarm of photographers prevented the Portuguese from entering his technical area at the start of the match.
Poor old Jose Callejon. If Real Madrid fans wish to find a stick with which to beat Jose Mourinho, they won't find one in the form of the Andalusian winger who was brought back to the club from Espanyol on the Portuguese's watch. Much has been made of the lack of Castilla graduates in the Real first team, but Mourinho was at pains to point out he handed debuts to as many as he feasibly could and had prevented the sale of Alvaro Morata. In the case of Callejon, Mourinho gradually bedded him in as a first-team regular.
La Liga has yet to draw its curtains on the current campaign, but newly crowned champions Barcelona have already seemingly produced an ace from the pack ahead of next season's title battle with Real Madrid. The Spanish duo have long been battling for the signature of much sought-after Brazilian forward Neymar, of Santos, but that soap opera ground to a staggering halt this week with the player, Barcelona and Santos all confirming he would be plying his trade at the Camp Nou from next season. - Agent: Bale 'would listen' to Real offer - Neymar tipped to be 'best in the world' Catalonia has been the 21-year-old's expected destination for a number of months now but Madrid, in typical fashion, did not give up on the wonderkid until all paperwork with Barca was signed, sealed and delivered.
Good lord. Only the Almighty knows what sort of farewell Jose Mourinho has in mind for his final game in charge of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu next week -- or what sort of send-off he will receive -- but the Portuguese's penultimate date at the helm wasn't short of drama in a 3-3 tie at Anoeta on Sunday. Champions League-chasing Real Sociedad put the royale into this battle with a spirited display, clawing its way back after goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon had put the visitors firmly in the driver's seat.