Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon claims Jose Mourinho turned down the chance to return to the Bernabeu as Rafael Benitez’s replacement.
Benitez was sacked as Real boss on Monday night after a 2-2 draw against Gary Neville’s Valencia which left Los Blancos third in La Liga, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
Club legend Zinedine Zidane has stepped up from managing Real’s B team to replace Benitez, but Calderon claims Mourinho was approached first.
He told talkSPORT: “The chosen one was Mourinho, but he decided not to come now. He didn’t want to come now.
“Zidane has come [in as manager] because he was here. I’m quite sure they wanted Mourinho to come now.
“They think it is a risky decision to take Zidane now. I hope he can be as good a coach as he was a player, but he has been coaching a second division team for only a year and a half, and [before that] he was Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant [at Real Madrid] – that is his only experience.
“It is similar to Gary Neville at Valencia, but in a more difficult situation because Real Madrid is not Valencia, it’s obvious.
“I think they have chosen Zidane because he was here and he is the only one at this moment who can take the job.”
According to the Daily Mirror, Mourinho’s main reason for snubbing Real was that he wants to remain in the Premier League and still has his heart on the Manchester United job, despite the fact that he does not have universal support among the Red Devils’ hierarchy.
Louis van Gaal’s position could come under threat if United look like missing out on the top four, but there is support within the boardroom for Ryan Giggs.
Calderon, meanwhile, has also claimed that Real sacked Benitez now to avoid a larger pay-off.
He said: “They have sacked him now because, before January 15, they have to pay him only one year’s salary.
“After that, it would be two. That’s the truth of why they have made the decision now – and only that.”