Real Madrid news: The role Sergio Ramos played in Julen Lopetegui’s Spain exit REVEALED

That’s according to Spanish football expert and Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague.

Lopetegui was unexpectedly unveiled as the new Real Madrid boss earlier this week despite being on the eve of the World Cup where he was due to manage 2010 champions La Roja.

But the 51-year-old was relieved of his duties just yesterday with Rubiales said to be furious having only been informed of Lopetegui’s decision to move to the Bernabeu five minutes before Real’s official announcement.

Rubiales, the head of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), had only handed Lopetegui a new three-year deal as Spain boss three weeks ago.

Former Real Madrid defender Fernando Hierro, Spain’s long-time sporting director, will take over in Russia but according to Balague, current Real captain Ramos fought hard to convince Rubiales to keep Lopetegui on.

The former Porto boss had overseen a 20-match unbeaten since taking over after the 2016 Euros and the last-minute managerial change casts huge uncertainty over their hopes of a second triumph in three tournaments having previously been among the favourites to lift the iconic gold trophy.

“Last night [Tuesday] there was a lot of talk within the camp and this morning [Wednesday] there was a press conference which was delayed by an hour because there was a meeting between Rubiales and Lopetegui which Sergio Ramos and Fernando Hierro also joined,” Balague revealed in a Sky Sports column. 

“Quite clearly Ramos felt he had to defend Lopetegui, who is going to be his manager at Real Madrid. 

“He was talking about the process and how it’s been two years and decisions have been taken about who will play. Lopetegui had a clear idea of what he wanted to do.

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“But Rubiales feels almost personal about this. I am not sure it’s a great idea if you take it so personally. 

“Of course it’s something to discuss and argue but you hear most of the players saying ‘We want Lopetegui to stay, it’s been a two-year process. Yes this is a huge obstacle, how do we sort it out?’.

“One thing is leadership and another thing is to give orders. Leadership would have been a slap on the wrist and telling him you can’t do that, but Rubiales sees things very black and white. 

“I had experience with him when he was the head of the trade union of footballers and if he did not agree with you then you could feel the fire in your direction.

“The players wanted Lopetegui to stay, especially the Real Madrid players and especially Ramos. 

“They defended Lopetegui’s position, saying basically that in our situation it would be the same; if somebody like Real Madrid came in you cannot say no. 

“Rubiales insisted ‘Sorry, this is not the way to do things’. It’s a strong decision and it’s based on the fact that he didn’t know anything about the negotiations with Real Madrid.

“The thing that really upset Rubiales and made him furious is that he only found out about the decision five minutes before it was announced. 

“But leadership would have been dealing with the situation and somehow making the federation win. If some of the players are telling you to keep the manager don’t you have to listen and swallow your pride a little?

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“The players were offering their support but Rubiales was saying ‘No way, this is it, it’s not just about the World Cup, it’s about the future’. Whatever decision he took was going to be criticised.”

Spain open their World Cup campaign with a Group B clash against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal on Friday (7pm UK time).


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