Analysis: Evaluating Xabi Alonso’s suitability to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid

There have been several changes in the Real Madrid squad this summer. Fran Garcia, Brahim Diaz and Jude Bellingham and Joselu have all been brought into Carlo Ancelotti’s squad ahead of next season, with Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard and Mariano Diaz having departed.

While there has been a shake-up in the playing squad, there could soon be a change in the dugout too, following reports that Carlo Ancelotti has agreed to take over as the next head coach of the Brazil national team.

However, Ancelotti is expected to see out the remainder of his Real Madrid contract first, before making the move to South America at the end of next season. This will allow Florentino Perez plenty of time to identify Ancelotti’s replacement, and whoever does succeed the Italian will have massive shoes to fill.

Perez has drawn up a provisional three-man shortlist to replace Ancelotti, consisting of Zinedine Zidane, Jose Mourinho and Xabi Alonso. The former two have already taken charge of Los Blancos and done well, with Zizou having been particularly successful in the Spanish capital.

Despite this, MD have reported that it is Alonso that is Perez’s preferred candidate. Coincidentally, his contract with Bayer Leverkusen also expires at the end of next season, which could allow Real Madrid to poach him for nothing.

However, that is not the main reason why Perez is so keen on Alonso. The 41-year-old took over at struggling Leverkusen earlier in the 2022-23 season, his first senior managerial role, and turned their fortunes down to a great extent. They finished sixth in the Bundesliga, while also reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League.

Alonso plays a very attacking 3-4-3 system at Leverkusen, in which he aims to push the wingbacks far forward to support the three attackers, while holding a strong defensive base, anchored by the two central midfielders.

Ancelotti currently plays a 4-3-3 at Real Madrid, so it is not too dissimilar to Alonso’s style, should the latter decide to continue the 3-4-3 at Los Blancos, if he were to be given the job. It would see the pivot drop into the centre of a back three, while giving the wingbacks (Fran Garcia/Ferland Mendy and Dani Carvajal) more license to bomb forward, which all three players are good at.

Real Madrid have the players to play three-at-the-back, with Eder Militao and David Alaba very capable at being outside central defenders, flanking Antonio Rudiger. However, with so many quality midfield options, which Bellingham has been added to, it feels like a waste to only have two starters, which would be the case in Alonso’s 3-4-3 system.

Obviously, Alonso may alter his system if he does take the Real Madrid job, and he has earned the opportunity to do so, given his spell at Bayer Leverkusen. However, there is certainly an argument to suggest that it would be too soon now, but in a year’s time, he should be ready.

One more year of experience at a top European side in Leverkusen should make Alonso ready for Real Madrid. If he does get the job, it would certainly be an exciting appointment, more so that a Zidane or Mourinho.

Tags Carlo Ancelotti Real Madrid Xabi Alonso


  1. I feeling a little peevish about the 3-4-3 formation that is a staple for Alonso. It would leave los blancos open to fast counterattacks which means Alonso could join the revolving door crowd of coaches at the bernabeu if his immediate results are not impressive enough for the ever demanding madridstas

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