Real Madrid have sacked coach Carlo Ancelotti after the world's richest club by income failed to win major silverware this season and, according to local media, Napoli's Rafa Benitez is the favourite to succeed him.
Italian Ancelotti, who had a three-year contract that was due to run until the end of next season, led the club to a record-extending 10th European crown and a King's Cup triumph in his first term in charge in 2013-14.
However, this season they were eliminated in the Champions League semi-finals by Juventus while Barcelona won La Liga.
Real also lost to Atletico Madrid in the King's Cup last-16 in January.
Real won the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup but Ancelotti's failure to win any of the three trophies that make up the traditional treble was deemed unacceptable.
"The board of directors have decided this evening to relieve Carlo Ancelotti of his duties," president Florentino Perez told a news conference on Monday.
"It was a very difficult decision ... but we have not come to Real Madrid to take easy decisions but to take decisions that we believe are the best for an institution that is a reference point around the world.
"The demands are huge and we believe it is the right moment to give fresh impetus that will allow us to win more titles and reach our optimum competitive level in a new phase."
Former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Benitez, who once had a stint as a youth team coach at Real, is now the frontrunner to replace Ancelotti.
Other coaches to have been linked with the job are German Juergen Klopp, who has quit Borussia Dortmund, and former Real player Michel who has had spells running the B team at the Bernabeu and clubs including Getafe and Sevilla.
|Ancelotti's last game in charge of Real Madrid saw the club win 7-3 on the back of a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick [AP]
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies