MADRID, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Monday's news that Zinedine Zidane was returning as Real Madrid coach less than 10 months after stepping down from the job saying the club needed a change must rank as one of the year's biggest bombshells in football.
The man who won three Champions League titles and one La Liga title in less than three seasons in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu has been greeted as a returning savior by fans and press alike, after a disastrous season where Madrid are already out of Europe and have virtually no chance of winning the league title.
Club president Florentino Perez clearly sees Zidane as the man to raise morale at the club after a campaign which has seen him sack Zidane's replacement Julen Lopetegui, and Lopetegui's successor Santiago Solari.
Zidane's return will also serve to deflect criticism from Perez's obvious mismanagement of the club in the transfer market.
Many believe that Zidane left Real Madrid in May after winning his third consecutive Champions League title because he could see a difficult season ahead, with Cristiano Ronaldo on the verge of leaving, and influential players such as Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric moving towards their mid-30's.
The fact that so many Madrid players were set to take part in the World Cup finals was also likely to take the edge of their performances in the first half of this season, while Perez's recent policy of signing young players (which has been slightly hit and miss) gave no guarantee that Zidane would be able to repeat his European success for a fourth time.
At this point it's probably useful to remember that despite winning the Champions League last season, Real Madrid finished third in La Liga, 17 points behind FC Barcelona, while they were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Leganes.
A squad that this season is weaker than last season's (despite the European success) was never going to be able to mount a serious domestic challenge.
That has been shown to be the case and Madrid were arguably out of the title race following the 5-1 defeat to Barcelona in the 10th round of matches which cost Lopetegui his job.
Madrid have played Barca four times this season, losing three of those games and drawing one with a combined score of 10-2, and there have been times this season when Barca have not looked at their convincing best.
Zidane now returns after avoiding being tainted by this season's failures - indeed, he has been given credit for seeing the problems coming. More than anything, however, when he left the club last May, the Frenchman showed he was willing to stick by his beliefs and that he was not afraid to walk.
Perez has seen Zidane leave the club once because he wasn't going to get what he thought he needed, and by now agreeing to his return Perez knows that he has to give the coach what he asks for.
That means Zidane can dictate transfer policy; a very rare privilege at Real Madrid, where Perez likes to be in control, and that means he can tell the club who he wants to stay, who he wants to sign, and who he wants to leave.
At first view that is bad news for Gareth Bale (who Madrid want to sell regardless) and midfielder Dani Ceballos, who publicly criticized Zidane after his departure, while Ramos may also be nervous after a dressing room discussion with Perez and his attempts to present himself as the leader at Madrid.
Players to benefit are probably Marcelo, who had looked likely to move to Juventus, and Isco, whose relationship with Solari had completely broken down in just three months.
Zidane is also going to ask for signings and the speculation has already started over who will arrive over the summer, with Eden Hazard a likely import from Chelsea. Madrid also need a striker and probably a big-name central midfielder, with Paul Pogba, Harry Kane, Neymar, Sadio Mane and Kylian Mbappe all having been mentioned.
Mbappe said last week that he would remain with Paris Saint-Germain despite another Champions League failure, but Zidane's return may be a factor in changing that decision and it is very clear that after playing his cards magnificently, Zidane is going to lead a very busy summer in Madrid.