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Jose Mourinho leaving Real Madrid; Chelsea return next?

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MADRID — Jose Mourinho will leave Real Madrid after three years as coach, paving the path for his return to England and a second stint as Chelsea's manager.

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez announced at a news conference following a board meeting Monday that a mutual agreement was reached for Mourinho's departure.

The 50-year-old Portuguese coach has two matches remaining in a season that will end on June 1 without Madrid winning a major trophy.

Mourinho will leave having won only two major titles, the 2011 Copa del Rey and the 2012 league championship, and he failed to deliver the club's much-desired 10th European Cup. His locker room appeared to splinter this season as he benched goalkeeper Iker Casillas, the captain of Madrid and Spain's world and European championship teams.

"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."

After becoming the third coach to win the European Cup with two teams (Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010), Mourinho replaced Manuel Pellegrini at Real for the 2010-11 season.

The agreement indicates the colorful and outspoken coach can return to Chelsea after a six-year absence without any compensation from the London club to Madrid. It was at Chelsea where Mourinho became the self-dubbed "Special One."

Rafa Benitez's stint as Chelsea's interim manager will end following a postseason tour of the U.S. that includes exhibitions against Manchester City in St. Louis on Thursday and in New York on Saturday. After winning the Champions League last year under Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea was eliminated in the group stage but went on to win the second-tier Europa League.

Mourinho helped transform Chelsea under owner Roman Abramovich, winning the Premier League in 2005 and 2006, the FA Cup in 2007 and the League Cup in 2005 and 2007.

"He galvanizes people," Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard told Talk Sport radio 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 many fraught relationships in Spain — Mourinho appears to have repaired his relationship with Abramovich, who has had nine managers since 2000.

"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."

 

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