Ahead of their third Bundesliga campaign, 2016/17 runners-up RB Leipzig have added plenty of young playing talent to their ranks while also enticing a coaching assistant from further afield to add even more international spice to a quality mix.

Matheus Cunha

Age: 19
Position: Forward
Signed from: Sion
What to expect: A versatile attacker who will add an extra spark to Leipzig’s counter-thrust game.

Developing his quick feet on the futsal courts with Esporte Clube Cabo Branco in his home country of Brazil, Cunha later switched to the football pitch, impressing at Coritiba FC. It was while competing at the Dallas Cup, the renowned international youth tournament held in the United States, that the Brazilian was spotted by FC Sion, who were quick to snap up his services.

Turning professional at the Swiss giants, Cunha didn’t disappoint in his one and only campaign in the Super League last season, finishing as his side’s top scorer with ten goals and providing eight assists from a wide range of positions such as left-wing, right-wing, second striker and centre forward.

Matheus Cunha (r.) scored on his competitive RB Leipzig debut with a stunning right-footed curler.
Matheus Cunha (r.) scored on his competitive RB Leipzig debut with a stunning right-footed curler. © imago

Leizpig saw enough to make their move, and there was no doubt they had an immense talent on their hands when the South American was man-of-the-match on his competitive debut, scoring in a 4-0 UEFA Europa League qualifying win against Häcken. 

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Not long after netting his first professional hat-trick in Sion’s 4-1 league win against FC Thun, Cunha was called up to Brazil’s U20 team. “I told my father, and when I called my mother, she started to cry,” was the Leipzig forward’s reaction to his selection for international duty.

Jesse Marsch

Age: 44
Position: Assistant coach
Signed from: New York Red Bulls
What to expect: A one-time MLS Coach of the Year, Marsch’s shrewd decision-making mark him out as a huge asset as Ralf Rangnick’s No.2.

With Rangnick stepping into the coaching void for a second stint in charge of the Saxony-based side, an intriguing development followed with Chicago Fire and Chivas USA midfielder Marsch arriving in an assistant coaching capacity.

His playing career guided by the almost constant presence of esteemed U.S. tactician Bob Bradley, Marsch was an MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield winner with the Fire either side of winning two international caps with the USMNT.

While Ralf Rangnick (l.) will only be coaching RB Leipzig for one season, Jesse Marsch (r.) could earn himself a permament place with the club for the future.
While Ralf Rangnick (l.) will only be coaching RB Leipzig for one season, Jesse Marsch (r.) could earn himself a permament place with the club for the future. © imago / Picture Point LE

He would later join up with Bradley again, this time working as assistant USA coach for 18 months from 2010. However, Marsch’s coaching flame blazed brightest when – after gaining experience at Montreal Impact and Princeton – the 44-year-old led the New York Red Bulls to the Supporters Shield in 2015.

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Marsch has been working hard over the past two years to gain his UEFA coaching badges, travelling back and forth between New York and Scotland during that time in order to complete the process.  “You’re trying to find ways as you move along to get better at what you do,” he said recently.

Marcelo Saracchi

Age: 20
Position: Left back
Signed from: River Plate
What to expect: An attacking full back whose well-timed tackles and swift delivery will keep Leipzig on the move.

Offered a trial with Uruguayan capital side Danubio FC in 2011, the then 13-year-old Saracchi grabbed his chance and was drafted into the first-team just four years later. Going on to excel at full back following several substitute appearances, it was little surprise when Argentina’s River Plate eventually snapped him up in 2017.

Captain for Uruguay at U17 level, Saracchi was also 17 when he represented his country at the FIFA U20 World Cup in 2015. In all, the left-sided defender has made 24 appearances and scored three goals at junior level for Uruguay. Following his move to Leipzig, Saracchi made his debut in July’s Europa League, first-leg win against Häcken.

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Saracchi’s senior debut with Danubio lasted just five minutes. After coming on as a substitute in the South Amercian Cup encounter against Universidad Catolica, the full-back was taken off by coach Jorge Castelli minutes later in a tactical reshuffle enforced by the sending off of teammate Agustin Pena.

Nordi Mukiele

Age: 20
Position: Defender
Signed from: Montpellier
What to expect: Physically powerful and tireless, Mukiele is as capable of strong-manning it in the centre as he is at bounding down the right.

The French second division saw the emergence of a 17-year-old Mukiele then in the colours of Stade Lavallois Mayenne FC, or simply Laval. Prior to his three years at Les Tangos, the predominantly right-footed defender – raised in the Parisian suburbs –spent most of his formative years at Paris FC.    

Nordi Mukiele's talents going up and down the right flank will be there for all to see in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig.
Nordi Mukiele's talents going up and down the right flank will be there for all to see in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig. © imago

It was during the 2017 winter transfer window that the France Under-21 international made the move to Montpellier and he was rarely out of the team following the switch, playing either at right back or in central defence during his 50 Ligue 1 appearances.

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Mukiele formed part of the second meanest defence in Ligue 1 last term, the Montpellier rearguard shipping just 33 goals in 38 games. The talented defender is also a keen Super Mario Kart fan.

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