Julian Nagelsmann has replaced Hansi Flick as Germany head coach. bundesliga.com explains why the former Hoffenheim, RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich boss is tailor-made for the job...
Nagelsmann returns to the dugout six months after being let go by Bayern. He won 60 of his 84 games after succeeding Flick in July 2021, lifting the 2021/22 Bundesliga title and two Supercups. When the now 36-year-old was dismissed, Bayern were only a point off top spot in the Bundesliga, still in the DFB Cup and enjoying a perfect, record-breaking UEFA Champions League campaign.
At the time, then Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn reasoned: "When we signed Julian Nagelsmann for Bayern in the summer of 2021, we were convinced we would work with him on a long-term basis - and that was the goal of all of us right up to the end.
"Julian shares our aspiration to play successful and attractive football. But now we have come to the conclusion that the quality in our squad - despite the Bundesliga title last year - has come to the fore less and less often."
On Thomas Tuchel's watch, Bayern went on to defend the Bundesliga title for the 11th season in a row, but were eliminated from the DFB Cup and Champions League at the quarter-final stage.
Meanwhile, Nagelsmann was linked with a whole host of top European clubs before opting for the Germany job, with the home 2024 Euros less than a year away.
As with the Bayern gig, Nagelsmann inherits a Flick team - albeit one that recorded just 12 wins from 25 under Joachim Löw's 2014 World Cup-winning assistant, and hasn't gone beyond the quarter-finals of a major tournament since Euro 2016. When he took the baton at Bayern, Flick's charges had won an unprecedented sextuple across the preceding 12-month period.
Although a first foray into international football, Nagelsmann has proved himself capable of meeting if not exceeding expectations throughout his still-young career.
As well as his three-trophy haul at Bayern, he led Leipzig to the 2019/20 Champions League semi-finals, only coming unstuck against Tuchel's eventual runners-up Paris Saint-Germain. At Hoffenheim, the Bavarian native turned a team threatened with relegation upon his appointment aged just 28 - and thus the Bundesliga's youngest-ever permanent head coach - into Champions League group-stage debutants.
"Julian coached a Bundesliga team in Germany when he was 28, which is a really exceptional story," said Liverpool's Jürgen Klopp, another prime example of German football's great coaches.
"I like what he is doing, I really like what he is doing. I have a lot of respect for his work. Being at that age, now he is in the age I was when I started coaching but he is doing it already for five or six years, which is really exceptional. Still young.
"I'm afraid to say, but probably will still get better and better over the years, like we all got, but is already really highest quality."
Watch: Julian Nagelsmann - tactical analysis
Nagelsmann was once a centre-back who looked up to former England defender John Terry, but his own playing days were cut short by injury in his early 20s. Since turning to coaching, he has cited the likes of Manchester City's Pep Guardiola, the godfather of Gegenpressing, Ralf Rangnick, and Klopp as some of his main inspirations. He also worked as an opposition scout during a young Tuchel's tenure as coach of the Augsburg reserves.
There are nods to all four in Nagelsmann's own coaching style, with tactical variety on and off the ball, energetic high pressing and innovation among his hallmarks. While at Hoffenheim, he requested a giant screen be erected at the training ground and used to correct player positioning, removing the need for long explainer breaks between drills.
"Thirty percent of coaching is tactics, 70 percent social competence," Nagelsmann once said of his methodology. "Every player is motivated by different things and needs to be addressed accordingly. At this level, the quality of the players at your disposal will ensure that you play well within a good tactical set-up - if the psychological condition is right."
Nagelsmann's ability to elevate individual players is another distinctive feature of his coaching playbook. Some of his most successful stories include: Andrej Kramaric, who went from fringe player at Leicester City to 2018 World Cup finalist and Hoffenheim's record goalscorer; Niklas Süle, now a fully fledged Germany international thanks to formative spells at Hoffenheim and Bayern; and Timo Werner and Marcel Sabitzer, who produced career-best numbers under 'Baby Mourinho's' tutelage at Leipzig.
Fully cognizant of the old adage that 'age is just a number', Nagelsmann even handed teenagers Arijon Ibrahimović, Malik Tillman and Paul Wanner their senior debuts at Bayern. And all whilst successfully managing established first-teamers such as Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Müller - players he will likely call on again as looks to put his inimitable mark on the national team.
"I can only say that Julian Nagelsmann is an outstanding coach," Kimmich said in March 2023. "Really, I've had a lot of coaches, and a lot of top coaches, and despite that I'd say he's easily in the top three of my best coaches."
After something of a lean patch, four-time world champions and three-time Euro winners Germany are primed for a reset and refresh. Young, progressive, personable, respected and proven at the top level - Nagelsmann is arguably the best man for the job.
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