MADRID (AP) — José Mourinho will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season after three years at the Spanish club, paving the way for his expected return to Chelsea.
The Portuguese coach's final season at Madrid has been blighted by divisions and a lack of trophies, but he is free to leave three years early from his contract after the final match on June 1 without any compensation involved.
"To spend three years in a first-division Spanish club is not easy — I share his reasons for wanting to leave," President Florentino Pérez said Monday. "The level of pressure has increased, so much that this is what has happened now ... he may have made some mistakes and asked for forgiveness, but the level of pressure Mourinho has been under has been unusual."
Pérez described that pressure in the Spanish capital as "not normal."
"He is a very demanding and competitive coach ... this level has a degree of wear on a person," Pérez said.
Mourinho will leave having won only a single Spanish league title — sandwiched between four Barcelona successes, including one this season — and one major domestic cup. That league title in 2012 may have brought a record 100 points, but he notably failed to deliver the club's 10th European Cup.
"This has been an insufficient season for us and also for Mourinho himself," Pérez said.
Pérez said no replacement is lined up, with Madrid blocked by Paris Saint-Germain from talking to Carlo Ancelotti.
The agreement with Mourinho allows the colorful and outspoken coach to return to Chelsea after a six-year absence. He won't receive compensation nor will the London club have to pay Madrid for his services.
Rafa 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.
Popular with fans and media alike in England — in stark contrast to his many fraught relationships in Spain — Mourinho appears to have repaired his relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to make a return to Stamford Bridge.
"I know in England I am loved," he told a news conference last month after Madrid was eliminated from the Champions League. "I'm loved by the fans. I'm loved by the media, which treats me in a fair way. ... I know I'm loved by some clubs, especially one."
"In Spain the situation is a bit different because some people hate me. And many of you are in this room."
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard can't wait for Mourinho to return.
"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 told Talk Sport radio on Monday. "I know it creates a storm, but he does protect his players."
Mourinho has endured an acrimonious final season amid discrepancies with some players and a hostile fan base.
It was befitting of Mourinho's fractious time in Madrid that he was sent off after furiously berating the match officials in his team's 2-1 loss to Atlético Madrid during the Copa del Rey final on Friday.
More often this season, he's been engaged in disputes internally, creating enemies and weakening his position.
The decision that enraged fans was dropping goalkeeper Iker Casillas, the captain of Madrid and Spain's world and two-time European championship-winning national team.
But the bold decision didn't pay off — and Mourinho's final season ends with Madrid once again in Barcelona's shadow.
Pérez insisted, however, that the club is "more united right now than ever."
"When I came in this time, the club was divided as seldom before," said Pérez, who is seeking re-election as president.
"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."
Mourinho was an unsuccessful player whose big break in coaching came when he was hired as an interpreter for English coach Bobby Robson at Sporting Lisbon in Portugal.
Robson took Mourinho with him to FC Porto and his influence increased as he took on coaching responsibilities. The duo moved to Barcelona for the 1996-97 season, and Mourinho remained at the club under Louis van Gaal following the Englishman's departure.
Mourinho returned to Portugal but failed to win any titles during stints as a senior coach at União Leiria and Benfica. That changed in his first full season at Benfica's rival Porto, winning the league, Portuguese Cup and UEFA Cup in 2003.
The following season, Mourinho led Porto to the league and Champions League titles.
Abramovich immediately hired Mourinho, who described himself as the "Special One" upon his arrival in London. The faith of the Chelsea owner was repaid when the club won the league for the first time in 50 years in 2005.
Although Mourinho retained the title the following year, he failed to repeat the European success he'd orchestrated at Porto despite fielding a more expensive and star-studded squad.
Despite winning all of English football's major honors, Mourinho left in September 2007 following a power struggle with Abramovich.
Mourinho spent the rest of the season without a club, before being hired by Inter Milan in June 2008. He won back-to-back Serie A titles and two Italian cups before ending his reign with success in the 2010 Champions League final.
After becoming the third coach to win the European Cup with two teams, Mourinho was enticed to Madrid to replace Manuel Pellegrini in 2010.
Mourinho leaves Santiago Bernabéu Stadium as the club's longest-serving coach for a decade, however its jeering fans appear only too happy to see him go.
"After three years we both agreed this was the correct moment to finish," Pérez said.