Zinedine Zidane announced he was stepping down from the Real Madrid throne after three illustrious seasons.
The former Los Blancos player accumulated three Champions Leagues, a La Liga title and five more trophies as Real Madrid boss. He left a legacy in Europe at least, that will be almost impossible to emulate.
Recent Champions League success against Liverpool proved his final accomplishment in the Spanish capital, and he has propelled Real Madrid to a lofty pedestal upon which they have resurrected their European command.
As far as the Champions League goes, Zidane was pristine. But Real Madrid are serial trophy-hunters, and the thought of Barca utterly dominating for another year is surely an unpleasant one.
Here I outline three potential replacements to take Real Madrid further, and challenge Barcelona domestically next term.
Proven success at both Chelsea and Juventus, Conte possesses a tactical edge that was supremely showcased in the 2016/17 season.
With former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri set to reign at Stamford Bridge from next season onwards, Conte’s immediate switch to Real Madrid suddenly doesn’t seem so unrealistic.
Roman Abramovic’s hire-and-fire mentality might have polluted the Italian’s work at Stamford Bridge, and the withdrawal of his notable enthusiasm and charisma in his second season at Chelsea points to a downfall.
At Real Madrid, as well as being able to nurture and improve star quality players, Conte can endear himself to the fans with the same vigour as at Chelsea.
Madrid’s devout followers want to see a man that will bring LaLiga back to the capital, and Conte can certainly do that.
It is difficult to underline this season, which had the silver lining of FA Cup victory, as the archetypal Antonio Conte project. When he first entered west London, though, the Italian was untouchable.
Conte deployed a strategy admittedly not as exhilarating to watch as Premier League counterparts Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, but had laudable results two terms ago.
Chelsea were pragmatic, stubborn and had the stardust in Eden Hazard and Diego Costa to push them over the line.
That distinct method can be mirrored at Real Madrid. In Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane are centre halves devoted to defending and, as we saw in the Champions League, are every bit as resolute as Conte needs.
Luka Modric and Toni Kroos form a superb, unwavering core and of course I needn’t mention Cristiano Ronaldo for the essential dynamism.
At Real Madrid the Italian can thrive, and faults obvious in La Liga under Zidane would most likely be ironed out by a beguiling, yet tactically astute, Antonio Conte.
Trouble behind the scenes and in the terraces tainted Arsene Wenger’s reign at Arsenal in the latter years of his career.
He stepped down from Arsenal in poignant fashion, and for many Gunners fans it is bittersweet to see the legend leave. While his legacy comes to an end, the breath of fresh air found in the meticulous Unai Emery is something they can flourish under.
It means Wenger is available, and this opening might seem more attractive to him than ever before.
The Frenchman claims he turned down many a job to remain loyal to the North Londoners, and it would be absorbing to see whether he really has failed to properly adapt to the modern game, or if a new challenge can see him rediscover his prime.
Wenger irrefutably has the acumen and footballing wisdom to handle a top task like Real Madrid, but the question remains if he can forget a problematic conclusion at Emirates Stadium.
Going to Real Madrid could prove a step too far, and too late, for the veteran, however no one can debate against his ability.
Pochettino ostensibly looks the perfect fit for Real Madrid, and might regret signing a new Tottenham contract so early.
Rumblings of the Argentine ending up in the Spanish capital have been rife, especially with Spurs still failing to accumulate silverware, and now the opportunity has arisen is it too good to pass up?
Pochettino has given Tottenham a solid foundation, helped some young talent flourish and has transformed Spurs into a household Champions League name.
It would be fitting to see him continue his tenure in north London, however with a healthy crop of talent including Achraf Hakimi, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vazquez and Borja Mayoral all at Real Madrid, Pochettino certainly seems the right man to guide them to stardom.
Tottenham have flirted with Premier League success, and feel they should have pipped Leicester to the crown three seasons ago.
They, like the rest, were a gulf away from Manchester City this term and still lack the maturity to make the sizable leap to Premier League champion status.
But, Pochettino at a club that has already established themselves as a world great could prove a different story.
His talent unleashed at Spurs has been impressive, although it is a tempting thought to wonder what he can do in Spain.
Certainly one of the most thoughtful, shrewd managers around, Mauricio Pochettino will certainly be on Los Blancos’ radar.