Rui Vitoria has wasted little time finding himself a new job after leaving Benfica last week. The Portuguese manager is set to sign an 18-month deal with Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr, in a move that will see him once again in direct competition with Jorge Jesus.
Meanwhile, reports from Spain suggest that José Mourinho has emerged as the prime target to take over at Real Madrid this summer, six years after his contemptuous departure from the Bernabeu.
Rui Vitória ended his 3.5-year spell with Benfica last week when he was sacked following the team’s 2-0 defeat to Portimonense, which left the Eagles seven points adrift of leaders FC Porto in the table. The 48-year-old won 2 championship titles, 1 Portuguese Cup, 1 League Cup and 2 Super Cups, but ultimately paid the price for never truly winning over the supporters at the Estádio da Luz.
Now, Vitória is expected to earn a remarkable €9m for an 18-month contract with Al Nassr. The club has been without a permanent coach since Uruguayan Daniel Carreno was removed, with former Benfica man and club sporting director Hélder Cristóvão taking temporary charge over recent weeks while a search for a new boss has been conducted.
Al Nassr are keen to end the supremacy of current league leaders and back-to-back champions Al Hilal, currently managed by Jorge Jesus. Vitória and Jesus shared a fiery rivalry when in charge of Lisbon rivals Benfica and Sporting, with the pair exchanging heated words in the media during their conflict. Who will come out on top in Saudi Arabia? If you think you know the answer take advantage of the Coral sign up offer and count your winnings.
Vitória’s move is good news for Benfica, who under the terms of Vitória’s departure will not have to pay the remainder of his €3m salary package now that he has found new employment.
Mourinho tipped for Madrid return
Real Madrid’s disastrous season started with new coach Julen Lopetegui being fired in October, just 14 games into the tenure of the former Porto boss. However, there has been little stability under interim coach Santiago Solari, despite Real winning the Fifa Club World Cup last month in the United Arab Emirates.
As such, speculation over the next manager in the Spanish capital has become rife, with José Mourinho a name that has remained in the conversation. The Portuguese was in charge of Real between 2010 and 2013, during which time Mourinho won La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and a Spanish Supercup before leaving to return to England with Chelsea.
Mourinho’s final season in Spain was marked by deteriorating relationships with some of the team’s longest-serving players, including Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos. However, Mourinho reportedly enjoyed a strong relationship with president Florentino Perez and reports in Spain have regularly insisted that Perez harboured hopes of a second stint in charge for the former Porto coach.
Now, according to El Pais, Perez has become convinced that Mourinho is the man to fix the club’s current problems. The paper claims that the Real president wants to tear apart the team to rebuild and sees Mourinho as the right personality to oversee the change, believing he would represent a popular appointment.
Any return for Mourinho may spell trouble for Ramos, who is now in his 14th season at the club. Asked last month about the speculation over Mourinho’s return, the defender was evasive. “I am nobody to decide who comes in, that is not the job of the captains, but we have already gone five years without Mourinho and still talk about him. Yet we have won everything!”
Perez, however, does not seem to think the Mourinho-Real story is finished.
By Sean Gillen