Zidane has never been considered a footballing Einstein as a coach, but his trump card at Real Madrid has always been the relationship he has enjoyed with his players. It is perceived by many as a rosy, peaceful, harmonious co-existence.
But there are signs those relationships are crumbling.
In deciding who should stay and who should go, the 47-year-old has not endeared himself to many of the Madrid faithful. They will see the sale to Atletico of Marcos Llorente, the nephew of the great Gento and a Blanco to the bone, as a sort of betrayal.
They will also be unimpressed with the loaning out to Sevilla of Reguilon, another product of the La Fabrica academy who could have slotted into the position held by Marcelo, who was 11kg over his optimum weight last season and has been struggling on that front ever since. And then there was the loan departure of Dani Ceballos, who could certainly be doing a job for the club in midfield, to Arsenal.
Zidane’s obsession with bringing in compatriot Paul Pogba has not been pretty to witness, not least because Manchester United never had any intention of selling him and Perez never seemed that keen on actually buying the 26-year-old.
The club had agreed terms with Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and Ajax’s Donny van de Beek, but Zidane stopped the moves because Pogba was the midfielder he wanted.
The reality is that Zidane and the club were hoping to sell Isco, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez, but no offers were forthcoming. For many, his use of those players is little more than a stick he is using to beat the president with by saying, basically: “You didn’t get me the player I wanted so now I’m going to have to use the players you wanted.”
Bizarrely, Bale’s lack of rapport with the manager has provoked precisely the kind of reaction that Zidane would have hoped for, with the Wales forward putting in some “I’ll show you” performances that have brought him two goals and one assist in three games. The downside is that it has also earned him a red card – thanks to two yellows collected in less than two minutes – and a one-match ban.
And finally, the club’s decision to sell goalkeeper Keylor Navas to Paris St-Germain was never something Zidane wanted either.
The general opinion at the Bernabeu is that the relationship between Zidane and Perez is not the best. A division between them is being created by their differences on Pogba and Navas, by the club’s failure to get rid of players the Frenchman did not want, and by the confusion over tactics – with the team lining up for one game with three at the back, the next in a 4-3-3 set-up and another as a 4-4-2.
Perez is frustrated at the lack of game time for some big-money signings and, for the first time in a while, the president feels he is not in complete control and the manager is not doing as he would like.
Zidane cannot be happy either, now finding himself with a squad of veterans combined with players untried at this level.
As a consequence, the Madrid media close to Perez are beginning to make mischief with criticisms of the coach.
When that happens, Zidane should know drastic things can happen.