What do you get when you bring together a club with a trained eye for talent and a man who has forged a reputation out of unearthing some of the rawest gems in world football? That would be RB Leipzig's blueprint for sustained success.
With the likes of Naby Keita, Emil Forsberg, Yussuf Poulsen and Dayot Upamecano, Leipzig have provided a springboard to stardom for several lesser-known players in recent seasons and that trend seems set to continue – if not be enhanced – following their appointment of Paul Mitchell as their new head of recruitment and development.
Paul #Mitchell has been brought in as #RBLeipzig's new Head of Recruitment and Development 🤝— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) February 6, 2018
💬 #Rangnick: "We're delighted to have Paul here. The results of his work at Southampton and Tottenham are very impressive." pic.twitter.com/H7IyKm2UDC
The 36-year-old arrives with an impressive portfolio including names such as Dele All, Sadio Mane, Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld, to name just a few of the now household names who were given their break thanks to the Englishman.
"We're delighted to have Paul here," said Leipzig's sporting director Ralf Rangnick, who can take credit for much of the impressive scouting and recruitment work carried out by Leipzig on their rise from the fifth tier of German football into the Champions League in eight years. "The results of his work at Southampton and Tottenham are very impressive. I'm confident that Paul will fit in very well here. I'm already looking forward to some exciting debates about potential new players."
Those debates are likely to be very productive, given the comparative views the pair share. Rangnick first dealt with Mitchell in 2014 when Mane passed from Red Bull Salzburg to Southampton – one of several astute signings he lined up while on England's south coast.
Italian forward Graziano Pelle – now one of the world's highest-paid players at Chinese club Shandong Luneng – Serbian midfielder Dusan Tadic and current Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren were also brought in by Mitchell during his time at the Saints before he followed head coach Mauricio Pochettino to Spurs, and further enhanced his reputation on White Hart Lane.
Indeed, such is Mitchell's pedigree that Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain both wanted him after he informed Spurs of his intention to leave in the summer of 2016. It is Leipzig, whose blueprint boasts a particular emphasis on youth development, who convinced him the most, however, and now Mitchell is already hard at work piecing together potential candidates for a summer recruitment drive.
"We will stick to our concept of only signing players up to 24 years old," said Rangnick at Mitchell's unveiling. That is a tried, tested and successful system which has catapulted Leipzig into their role of Bayern Munich's closest challengers in the Bundesliga. The challenge of getting into such a position was one thing, but establishing themselves there is where the next test lies.
With two of the brightest talent-spotting heads in world football on the same team and wavelength, however, Leipzig fans can certainly look forward to an exciting future.