Why Zidane Doesn't Want to Sign Any Players for Madrid in January

Published January 18th, 2018 - 12:42 GMT
 Despite his side's struggles in La Liga this season, the French coach is happy with his current squad and feels no need to strengthen this winter
Despite his side's struggles in La Liga this season, the French coach is happy with his current squad and feels no need to strengthen this winter

Real Madrid now look unlikely to sign anyone in the current transfer window and that is exactly how Zinedine Zidane wants it. Even though Los Blancos are flailing in La Liga, the Frenchman is happy with the players he has at his disposal.

Meanwhile, other clubs are moving to strengthen this month. Barcelona splashed €160 million to buy Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho, while Alexis Sanchez is close to a move to Manchester United from Arsenal. So, why are Madrid not looking to sign anyone in January?

Because, quite simply, Zidane does not want any new players right now. The Madrid coach knows what is available in the market and believes there is nothing better than what he has already. Not in January, anyway.

With another coach in place or a different squad, president Florentino Perez may have pushed for a new signing or two this month. Not with Zidane, though. Having won back-to-back Champions Leagues over the past two seasons, the Frenchman's word is final. For now, at least.

One of the most impressive aspects of Zidane's tenure has been the management of his squad and that is why his decision will be respected. He insists, despite the side's struggles in La Liga this season, that he has confidence in his players.

The Frenchman has mostly kept faith in his regulars this season, even though performances from many of those have been disappointing, and he would rather introduce the new players and youngsters gradually, in a winning team, instead of throwing them in at the deep end amid a difficult run of results.

Zidane, of course, was a player not so long ago at Real Madrid and he knows the mentality of a footballer. He also knows this club perfectly: the atmosphere, the extraordinary pressure, the demands. And he may think that signing a new player now could upset the dressing room. Certainly, a new purchase in January would present more risks than guarantees.

During his time as a player at Real, Perez signed Thomas Gravesen and Javier Portillo (who returned from a loan spell) in January 2005, then Antonio Cassano and Cicinho a year later. Four signings that did not work out at all and, in the case of Cassano and Gravesen, ones that harmed the atmosphere in the dressing room.

More recently, Zidane was in charge at Castilla when Martin Odegaard was signed for Real Madrid's youth side. The arrival of the Norwegian caused some unrest due to his high wages and preferential treatment compared to some of the other players.

Several of those expressed their annoyance with the situation at the time, but many preferred to suffer in silence and Zidane knew it. Although the pressure and the objectives are completely different in the first team at Real, the principal is the same: a new signing in mid-season can upset the applecart.

Zidane is clear about what he wants. He knows that the conditions must be right for a new signing to succeed. Economically, January can be more difficult, while dressing-room harmony is a factor to be taken into consideration, along with the settling-in period and the pressure from within the club and the media.

If a new signing is no better than what the club has already and cannot be guaranteed to fulfil all the requirements at this time of year, then why do the deal at all? That is the question being asked by Zidane...

By Alberto Pinero

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