Zidane set to replace former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Benitez at Real Madrid

By Spain correspondent Miguel de Souza

Zinedine Zidane is set to be appointed the new Real Madrid manager, Football Insider sources understand.

The Spanish giants have decided to dismiss Rafael Benitez after an emergency meeting of the club’s board on Monday.

Zidane is poised to take the step up from managing Real ‘B’ team Castilla and be named the new senior Real boss. The Frenchman, 43, was Carlo Ancelotti’s number two during the 2013-14 season.

A source close to Real has told Football Insider that an announcement confirming the change of manager is expected from the club in the next 24 hours.

Real chiefs decided to act even though the team have collected seven points from their last three league matches and are just four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid in the La Liga table.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

Benitez’s team drew 2-2 against Gary Neville’s Valencia on Sunday despite twice going into the lead. In their previous two games, they had beaten Real Sociedad 3-1 and annihilated Rayo Vallecano 10-2.

Sack face: Rafa Benitez has been dismissed as Real Madrid manager

Madrid have also qualified for the Champions League knockout stages, where they will face Roma in the last-16 of the competition.

Benitez took from Carlo Ancelotti as manager at the Bernabeu last summer but has faced sustained criticism throughout his reign.

One of the key factors in the dismissal of the 55-year-old former Chelsea, Liverpool and Valencia manager is that he is said to have a fractious relationship with senior members of the Real squad, including Cristiano Ronaldo.