Real Madrid on fire, Lionel Messi on ice

All things LaLiga with Dermot Corrigan of The Athletic.

Real Madrid are on fire. Yes, the Santiago Bernabéu is quite literally ablaze, and smoke is rising from the Real Madrid boardroom.

“The Spanish media were joking it was Čeferin,” reports my guest for the morning, LaLiga correspondent for The Athletic, Dermot Corrigan.

The Irishman has been covering all things Spanish football for over a decade. Having first settled in Seville, he now lives and works in Madrid with his family.

A lot has played out in his ten years covering LaLiga. However, the overarching narratives of that time, Mourinho vs Guardiola, Messi vs Ronaldo, are fading into a distant past. LaLiga is in a state of stasis.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky to cover such amazing stories in my time here, but there is the sense that the league is looking for the next big thing, for when Messi eventually departs.”

The most recent high profile departure from LaLiga is Zinedine Zidane, who leaves the Real Madrid managerial position for the second time in three years.

“Much like the first time, he left the role on his own terms but this time the relationship between himself and Florentino Pérez had definitely worsened.”

Zidane was perhaps naïve to think his club legend status would protect him from the perils of managerial uncertainty at boardroom level.

He leaves the club with his managerial status in good health, and half an eye on France’s head coaching position should Les Bleus encounter difficulties at the upcoming Euros.

(Since speaking to Dermot, Carlo Ancelotti has been re-hired by Real Madrid on a 3-year contract)


Over at Catalan rivals Barcelona, Lionel Messi et al find themselves in similar hot water to Real Madrid.

While contract negotiations continue to play out with Messi, new club president Joan Laporta has tentatively agreed to keep Ronald Koeman on board as head coach.

“Koeman has had a bit of a run-in with Laporta concerning the state of his health but the feeling is he will stay on, albeit with a bit of doubt hanging over his long term future.”

Both Laporta and Pérez have been central to the proposed European Super League project, an idea they continue to push despite the heavy backlash.

“For Pérez in particular, the Super League is his way of writing his name into the annals of football history. He truly believes that it will shape the game of the future and that he can be the man to make it happen.”

After winning LaLiga on a dramatic last day of the season, cross-city rivals Atlético Madrid enter the off-season in a far more stable position than their immediate rivals.

“Yes, Atleti were deserving champions but with Barça and Real adding strength with the likes of Agüero and Alaba, the upcoming season should be even closer.”

You can read more from Dermot Corrigan by subscribing to The Athletic.

Ciarán Brennan

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