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Arsenal can lay down a marker

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Real confirms Jose Mourinho exit

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has revealed Jose Mourinho will leave the club at the end of the season
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez insists that this is the correct moment to part ways with Jose Mourinho and that the decision was mutual

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez announced Monday that coach Jose Mourinho will leave at the end of the season after three years at the Spanish club.

"We've decided to bring our relationship to an end at the end of the current season," Perez said. "The club and manager agree the timing is right to bring our relationship to an end. On behalf of the board of directors I would like to thank Jose Mourinho for all his hard work. The team have improved in his three years, and we wish him all the best. It was the right moment."

Perez said no decision about his replacement has been made. Spanish media has reported that Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti is a candidate.

The 50-year-old Portuguese coach is leaving having won just a single Spanish league title -- sandwiched between four Barcelona successes, including one this season -- and two domestic cups. He has two remaining matches of a season that will end at the start of next month without Madrid winning a trophy.

"We have been thinking about this for a while," Perez said. "We have not established any pre-contract with no potential coach, and that is what we will be doing in the following days."

Perez reiterated that "nobody has fired anyone" and that the separation of coach and club was mutual.

"After three years we both agreed this was the correct moment to finish," Perez said. "With Mourinho, we made a big leap competitively and sporting-wise. Today Madrid is where it ought to be.

"We had not reached that level prior to his arrival, so the balance of his stay here was positive."

The agreement indicates that the colorful and outspoken coach can return to Chelsea after a six-year absence without any compensation.

Rafael Benitez's interim stint in charge of Chelsea will end after a postseason tour of the United States, having secured qualification for the Champions League and won the Europa League last week.

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard can't wait for Mourinho to return.

"He galvanizes people," Lampard told Talk Sport radio on Monday. "His own self-confidence reflects back on his teams. ... What he does is he gets the best out of players and gets this togetherness that I'd never known until he came to the club, and I haven't seen it again since then."

Popular with fans and media alike in England -- in stark contrasted to his fraught relationships in Spain -- Mourinho appears to have repaired his relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to return to Stamford Bridge.

"He might rub people up the wrong way but, as a manager, he's brilliant with his team. Tactically, he's brilliant with individuals, and I think he's brilliant with the press," Lampard said. "I know it creates a storm, but he does protect his players."

As for Mourinho's replacement at Real, Ancelotti said Monday he has sought his PSG release.

"I've asked to leave, and I am waiting for their answer," said the 53-year-old Paris Saint-Germain head coach.

Nasser al-Khelaifi, president for the Ligue 1 champions, denied the reports.

"He [Ancelotti] asked to depart for Real Madrid. It is not possible because he has a contract for one year more, so that is our decision," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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