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Is the ‘extreme situation’ of this season the reason Europe’s top managers are on the move?

Zinedine Zidane, Mauricio Pochettino, Christophe Galtier, Antonio Conte
Several managers at top European clubs are – or could yet be – on the move this summer, but why?

Antonio Conte has left Inter Milan after winning Serie A, Zinedine Zidane resigned from Real Madrid and Tottenham have sounded out Paris St-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino.

Winning the Ligue 1 title couldn’t keep Christophe Galtier at Lille, Juventus are reportedly close to sacking Andrea Pirlo and bringing back Massimiliano Allegri, while Hansi Flick’s departure from Bayern Munich triggered a domino effect in Germany.

The dust has barely settled on the 2020-21 campaign, but already we’ve seen an unprecedented number of top managers on the move.

From financial issues to exhaustion, BBC Radio 5 Live’s Euro Leagues experts have been examining why…

‘Fallouts caused by an extreme situation’

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the finances of football clubs, with Europe’s top 32 clubs seeing 6.1bn euros (£5.27bn) wiped off their value since February 2020, according to business services group KPMG.

In Germany, Flick’s departure from Bayern led to a series of changes, including Julian Nagelsmann replacing him and Jesse Marsch joining RB Leipzig. It has been a similar story across Italy, Spain, England and France since.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, German football journalist Raphael Honigstein said: “The common theme that links these resignations is, during Covid-19, we have seen much more internal arguments about money.

“A lot of these coaches have walked out because, rather than having another job lined up, they’ve had enough.”

He added: “There’s an extreme situation here that is very different to what usually happens in an off-season, especially at those big clubs. We don’t see big coaches walking away in these numbers.

“Flick went after a huge disagreement over transfers and the backdrop is Covid-19. Bayern couldn’t spend the kind of money Flick wanted and that’s where the argument started.”

La Liga runners-up Real Madrid topped KPMG’s study into Europe’s most valuable clubs, however Zidane did not feel backed by the board and president Florentino Perez, according to Spanish football expert Guillem Balague.

It was a similar story at Inter, where Conte departed after delivering a first Italian title in 11 years because the club’s financial situation means they must reduce the wage bill by 20% this summer.

Romelu Lukaku (left) and Lautaro Martinez (right)
Forwards Romelu Lukaku (left) and Lautaro Martinez (right), who scored 41 Serie A goals between them this season, could be among those Inter look to sell this summer

Italian journalist Gabriele Marcotti said: “Conte wanted investment and made demands but instead of getting one or two big signings they have to sell one or two big players.

“The mood has changed. Unless you’re Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp it’s very hard for you to make those demands.

Marcotti added: “It’s cheaper to bring in a new manager than a bunch of new players. Obviously there is a chain reaction but undeniably a lot is about money, investment and the economy post-coronavirus.

“It’s a part of why Zidane is no longer at Real, why Conte is no longer at Inter. It’s our reality for this transfer window which for managers and players will be very different.”

Some are exhausted, others want new challenges

Raised internal tensions are perhaps to be expected following an exhausting season that has forced clubs across Europe to contend with congested fixture schedules, after the previous campaign was disrupted by the pandemic.

And despite some, such as Conte, bringing success despite those challenges, disagreement over transfer funds has proven a tipping point.

Zidane failed to win a trophy but led an ageing Real side to within a point of the La Liga title, and a Champions League semi-final in which they were beaten by Chelsea.

French football journalist Julien Laurens said: “This was a special season for Zidane because of everything that happened. He caught coronavirus. He took this Real team so far.

“Maybe he felt it would be hard to do better than this. Perhaps this is what is at the heart for a lot of these managers changing – ‘Can we do better than we have done this season?’.

“Galtier thought there’s no chance Lille would win Ligue 1 again next season. Why stay when you have other options? For Conte, maybe it’s the same.”

Balague added: “The big clubs are changing managers and because big jobs are coming available, there are two or three managers who want to be available to be chosen.

“Zidane got tired, he got exhausted. It has affected a lot of managers – certainly Zidane – even though they expect he will go to another job.”

Who is heading where?

With so many big-name managers on the move, there’s been no shortage of speculation surrounding who might end up where.

Conte has been linked with Real Madrid and the vacancy at Premier League side Tottenham.

Spurs have made contact with Paris St-Germain regarding former manager Pochettino – though Marcotti told BBC Radio 5 Live Pochettino is also Real’s top target.

It appears Inter may haveexternal-link Conte’s replacement lined up, after Simone Inzaghi left fellow Serie A side Lazio on Thursday.

Who knows what is next for Andrea Pirlo, who Juventus will reportedly sackexternal-link and replace with former boss Allegri.

Galtier, who said he had a “deep belief that my time is up here” in leaving Lille, has been linked with the managerial jobs at French sides Nice and Lyon – while former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo is also looking for a new club.

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