Dubai: Former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, the man tipped as one option to take over at Manchester United in the summer, has spent the festive period in the UAE with his family.
The winner of the past three consecutive Champions League titles with Real was pictured on social media posing in front of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, and visiting the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi over the last few days.
He’s expected to stick around for the Dubai International Sports Conference and Globe Soccer Awards at Madinat Jumeirah on January 2-3, where he’s been nominated for Coach of the Year.
The French 1998 World Cup winning midfielder and three-time World Player of the Year (one-time Ballon D’Or), was seen in pictures with his wife Veronique and four sons; Enzo, Luca, Theo and Elyaz.
Enzo, Lucas and Theo are all footballers in their own right, with Enzo and Theo playing in midfield like their dad for Rayo Majadahonda and Real Academy Cadets, while Theo plays in goal for Real’s senior side as their fourth choice keeper.
Even though this looks like downtime for the man who was famously sent off in his last game for France against Italy in the 2006 World Cup final for headbutting Italy defender Marco Matterazzi, Zidane’s name remains hot in the headlines after Jose Mourinho was sacked as Manchester United coach just before Christmas.
Fan-favourite former super-sub striker-turned-coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who scored the last gasp winner in the 1999 Champions League final to complete a famous treble, has replaced Mourinho on an effective interim period until the end of the season. However, Zidane and Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino both continue to be linked as possible long-term successors at Old Trafford.
Zidane will no doubt dodge these questions if asked on the sidelines of the awards and conference next week, but they won’t go away.
His agent has said managing in England ‘doesn’t appeal to him’, but he remains the bookmaker’s favourite, and that French connection with current United midfielder Paul Pogba won’t dim speculation. Spanish press are even saying a ‘firm’ offer. So could he be using the UAE’s beaches to mull things over?