MADRID (AP):Zinedine Zidane couldn’t have asked for much more after only five months as Real Madrid’s head coach. The former France great has a chance to end the season celebrating the Champions League title, just like he did 14 years ago as a player for the Spanish powerhouse.Victory tomorrow against Atletico Madrid would cap a superb start to Zidane’s head-coaching career, joining Miguel Munoz, Giovanni Trapattoni, Johan Cruyff, Carlo Ancelotti, Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola as the only men to have won the European tournament both as a coach and a player.Zidane would also become one of the few coaches to win European football’s most important club competition in his first job as a head coach, along with seven other men, including Guus Hiddink, Vicente del Bosque and Guardiola.Zidane scored with a remarkable left-foot volley on the edge of the area to give Madrid their ninth title in the 2002 final against Bayer Leverkusen. He also won the tournament as an assistant coach to Ancelotti two years ago against Atletico.”I’m lucky to be here and share these moments with the players and fans. I’m very happy,” the 43-year-old Zidane said. “I’m thinking about how lucky I am to be in a final with this great club.”Zidane led Madrid to the final in Milan after taking over a club in crisis under coach Rafa Benitez. After an up-and-down start, he put the team back on track and it finished the season by winning 15 of its last 17 matches. The setbacks were a 2-0 loss to Wolfsburg in the first leg of the Champions League quarter finals and a 0-0 draw against Manchester City in the first leg of the tournament’s semi-finals.Madrid won their last 12 Spanish league matches to finish only one point behind champions Barcelona.”After he arrived, everybody could see that the team improved,” Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos said. “We didn’t have a good first half of the season but we improved a lot with him.”A loss tomorrow would leave Madrid without a title this season, although Zidane’s first spell as head coach would not likely be defined by that.”Failure would be if we didn’t give everything,” said Zidane, who was coaching Madrid’s “B” team in the third division before replacing Benitez in January. “We know that in a final the most important thing is to prepare well and anything can happen. We must prepare as always and see what happens on Saturday.”As a player, Zidane was used to the big stage after leading France to the World Cup title in 1998 and the European Championship title in 2000. He was named the world’s best player of the year three times.”There’s always pressure at Real Madrid,” he said. “It’s part of the job and I like it. I was a player and I also had pressure. I like it. I’ve got a lot to learn but the desire I’ve got to learn is tremendous. I’m going to improve, obviously, but there’s still a long way to go until I’m an important coach.”
It is thought Chelsea have been preparing this new deal for a number of months and it has been previously claimed it will make him the highest paid player at Stamford Bridge.Eden Hazard is currently Chelsea’s best-paid player, earning £220,000-per-week, but the Belgian has done little to dispel rumours his time in London is almost over.He ruled out leaving in the January transfer window, but when it was put to him that to win the Ballon d’Or – and be crowned the world’s best player – he would have to play in Spain, he said with a smile: “That’s why I want to go, maybe.” TOP WORK moving on The biggest market value losers in 2019, including Bale and ex-Liverpool star Popular transfer stories IN DEMAND Chelsea confident of beating Man United and Liverpool to Sancho signing LATEST Man United joined by three other clubs in race for Erling Haaland Cavani ‘agrees’ to join new club and will complete free transfer next summer Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade 1 Kante played in every France game at the World Cup and recovered the ball more often than any other member of the squad. His team-mate Paul Pogba said that he “must have 15 lungs” and Didier Deschamps, the manager, called him the “essential element”. N’Golo Kante has added the World Cup to his list of honours Tony Cascarino backs Everton to sign two strikers for Carlo Ancelotti targets LIVING THE DREAM Arsenal transfer news LIVE: Ndidi bid, targets named, Ozil is ‘skiving little git’ targets Kevin De Bruyne ‘loves Man City and wants to keep winning’, reveals father REVEALED In an effort to keep Paris Saint-Germain away, Chelsea have offered N’Golo Kante a new contract.The 27-year-old midfielder still has three years left to run on his current deal, but the Premier League side want to tie him down for longer, according to the Mirror.Kante, who won the World Cup with France during the summer, cost the Blues £32million when he joined from Leicester in 2016.He was the double player of the year in his first season at Chelsea, having helped them to the Premier League title a year after doing the same with the Foxes. RANKED Where every Premier League club needs to strengthen in January three-way race Liverpool’s signings under Michael Edwards – will Minamino be the next big hit?