Real Madrid hires Santiago Solari as coach until 2021

(AP Photo/Lalo R. Villar)


AP Sports Writer

MADRID (AP) Real Madrid is done searching for a new coach.

The club said Tuesday it is sticking with Santiago Solari, giving him a permanent contract until June 2021.

Solari was appointed as the interim coach two weeks ago to replace the fired Julen Lopetegui and was rewarded with a long-term deal after leading the team to four straight victories, putting it back on track in the Spanish league and the Champions League.

The 42-year-old Solari is a former Argentina international who played for Real Madrid in the early 2000s. He had previously coached Madrid's "B" team.

There had been speculation about Antonio Conte and Roberto Martinez as possible replacements for Lopetegui, but Solari gained the club's confidence - and the approval of fans and players - with his impressive start in charge of the main squad.

Madrid has outscored its opponents 15-2 in the four matches under Solari. In had lost five of its last seven with Lopetegui, being outscored 13-4.

The club had registered Solari as its permanent coach on Monday because local regulations prohibit teams from having an interim coach for more than two weeks.

Madrid officials had been praising Solari but had not said they stopped looking for a full-time replacement for Lopetegui, the former Spain coach who was fired following a 5-1 loss to Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium.

Solari helped Madrid win the 2002 Champions League as a player as was involved in the build-up that led to Zinedine Zidane's superb winner in the final.

The former midfielder also played for River Plate, Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan.

He had been coaching Real Madrid's "B" team since 2016, taking over not long after Zidane left to coach the main squad.

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Updated November 13, 2018