Real Madrid have re-ignited their interest in Jurgen Klopp, with the German now their preferred target on a manager shortlist that also includes Mauricio Pochettino and Max Allegri.
The deposed European champions are facing up to their worst season since 2008-09, having been knocked out of all competitions by March, but that is one reason they don’t want to “damage” the perception of any new appointment and are thereby likely to keep Santiago Solari in charge until the summer.
Madrid will in the meantime launch a campaign to appoint a manager who can be hailed as bringing in an exciting new era for the club.
Jose Mourinho has not been completely ruled out, and still has a good relationship with president Florentino Perez and director general Jose Angel Sanchez, but there is a view at the top level of the club that the Portuguese is “finished”.
More importantly, the Madrid hierarchy want a manager who restores “excitement and happiness” – or, as goes the Spanish word being used at the club, “illusion” – and without any prior baggage or bad relationship with the players.
That is why Klopp is seen as number one, as Perez and his officials have been hugely impressed with the excitement he has created again at Liverpool.
The German has turned Madrid down before, though, and the Bernabeu hierarchy are as aware he could as difficult to prise from Anfield as Pochettino is from Tottenham Hotspur.
The club are however determined for an entirely fresh approach, and a summer of complete renewal, in what is set to be the busiest close season since 2009.
Madrid are a significant market force, and what they do in the summer will make waves around the world from Europe’s elite all the way down the footballing pyramid.