OPINION | Julian Nagelsmann – the highly thought of tactician can make RB Leipzig into a dominant force

As one of the most in-demand and well-coveted young coaches of the millennia, Julian Nagelsmann could have gone anywhere he liked. The 30-year-old could have chosen any elite club in Europe given his abilities from Real Madrid to Bayern Munich and both Manchester clubs. This could happen in the long-term but with his near future sorted, Nagelsmann will be leaving TSG 1899 Hoffenheim for RB Leipzig in the 2019/20 season.

After a mediocre second season at Leipzig, former Schanzer-coach Ralph Hasenhüttl was let go. While his dismissal came as no surprise for those in the know, most would have expected a clever appointment right away from the Saxonians. That is, after all, what they’ve grown famous of. However, instead of bringing in Marco Rose of someone alike, they went for the less illustrious option- Ralf Rangnick, the pressing master of Germany and one of the most well-respected football minds in the last decade of German football. However, Rangnick is often seen as a temporary solution, a solid quick-fix until a long-term solution was found.

And here we are. Leipzig have now found the most long-term of all solutions available through a transfer that seemed impossible to pull off just weeks ago, which must be one of the deals of the decade. Nagelsmann, the miracle man from Bavaria will be on the touchline of Red Bull Arena from 2019/20 and onward. The question many now ask themselves, and will continue to do until the end of next season, is how Leipzig will fare under him and what this means for the future of Leipzig, Hoffenheim and even the entirety of the German football sphere.

Nagelsmann has that sensational aura of success around him. His touch seems to be that of Midas as almost everything he touches turns to gold. This sheer ability to form and mould teenage stars into masters of the dark and light arts is one of his main strengths, something he has done on multiple occasions with the likes of Dennis Geiger and Nadiem Amiri. His work with the academy at Hoffenheim has created structures that will stand the test of time and more, an academy that will go on to create players as a cheap-line article. But they will be without Nagelsmann’s own magical Midas-touch. That is off to Saxony and the energy-crazed bulls in Leipzig. Most would have wanted to see how Hoffenheim would have fared with him as a dynastic jewel, so let’s look at the struggles they’ll face without him.

It’s obvious that it hurts and will continue to hurt for the Sinsheim-based entity from Neckar.

However, if there’s one club that can recover from something like this, it’s Hoffenheim. Firstly, Hoffenheim have one more year with him. This means that the work he has done and begun at the club is in no way finished. He can continue to work on the academy, to further the club in the future, his last gift before leaving for more money and fame in the East.

Secondly, players like Amiri and Geiger, young talents with bags of potential, will miss his Midas-touch. Nevertheless, they’ve already got some coaching by him, both have been schooled in the arts of football by the young Bavarian and both can implement that into whatever game their new coach plays, if they do stay past that.

On the pitch, nobody will expect Hoffenheim to recover. It’s a club with funds, but they’ve just lost their crown jewel, something that’s won’t be easy to replaced. To replace him will be one of the biggest challenges since Dietmar Hopp took over the club, but most are certain that Alexander Rosen can make it happen. Their academy surely has more to offer, perhaps there’s some coach that can be taught the ways of management by the young Julian before he leaves.

It would not in any way be unreasonable to state that this wound might take years to heal. As it seems, Nagelsmann signed a contract and pledged his loyalty to the club. The fans rejoiced and feasted upon the news, positivity spread through the club and to all areas around Heidelberg (NB: Not Sandhausen or Walldorf). Then he activated a clause to leave the club, in a Niko Kovac-like manner, and left them stranded. Fans can only hope that this was more carefully planned than Kovac’s stunt back in April. Perhaps this was the plan all along. Nagelsmann renewed so that TSG could get more money from the transfer and so that they could get one more year with him. Nagelsmann stayed one year to learn, gain experience and develop, perhaps finish, what he had started. Perhaps this wasn’t chaotic, maybe this was a carefully planned stunt from Hoffenheim to guarantee success for both sides. If that’s the case, well done!

Leipzig get a mastermind to accommodate their status as a rising star. In their first season in the Bundesliga, Leipzig finished second. This was the second-best finish ever for a newly-promoted club in the Bundesliga, only bettered by Kaiserslautern’s almost forgotten piece of marvel in 1998 when they got promoted and then won the league at “Betze” the following year.

There seems to be nightingales soaring in the winds above Red Bull Arena and they’re whispering wonderful things, stories of a marvellous future with the tactical stability of the Forbidden City and with the dynastic future of the once young Han in China. It seems that RB Leipzig and Nagelsmann is a match made in heaven. A financially promising project meets a promising human project, but there are a few possible discrepancies that can emerge, faults that might cause the lovely nightingales to reluctantly tell stories of dread and dust, silent stands and empty cans of taurine-powered energy drink.

It would be strange to just assume success, pro forma, before considering the possible horrors of this appointment. For example, the two strong personalities could combat against each other like nails on a blackboard. That eerie scratching sound that a personality discrepancy produces can even scare the tolerable nightingales away from Leipzig, perhaps back to Hoffenheim.

The problem with this is the possibility of it happening. Rangnick is infamously peculiar and controls the relevant parts of the club like a dictator. He’s excellent at what he does, but you can’t help imagine that there might have been some cases where his persona just hasn’t been able to cooperate with another party. Hopefully, Nagelsmann and Rangnick get along just fine. However, this seems to be the only problem one can detect. It is really a great appointment from Leipzig and they’ve strengthened their position going into a turbulent, but enjoyable future.

With Nagelsmann at the port watcher’s helm, some Bundesliga titles might actually be directed into the RB harbour. It would probably be expected, even. It’s a club with money coming in every year from an investor, the club can keep their stars and can strengthen with young, well-scouted stars for reasonable transfer fees. With Nagelsmann they now have a Midas-touch to go with their already excellent academy and staff. He has all it takes to do it and the club has all he needs to make it happen.

With this new appointment, RB has made themselves a future mainstay at the top of Bundesliga. With tactical idiosyncrasy, outstanding scouting and the funds to execute orders, Rasenballsport has a future blooming with success. Bayern has a new playmate, a new pet. But this pet isn’t the normal knee dog, it’s no shi-tzu or a poodle like Borussia Dortmund has become in the last five years.

On the contrary, RB Leipzig has the potential to become that pet that’s covered by the news after having eaten the face of its owner. So, stay vigilant, Bayern, Julian Nagelsmann’s energy-crazed bulls are gunning for die Schale.

By Axel Falk.


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