The 36-year-old agreed in principle to take over as Germany manager on Tuesday following a meeting between German FA Julian Nagelsmann and his advisers.
Some details have yet to be ironed out, but the man who was sacked as Bayern Munich manager in March will be leaving a huge chunk of money under his €7million (£6m; $7.8m)-a-year contract. The German championship, which was due to run until 2027, is in financial trouble and the German FA can only pay €4 million for its 10-month run.
Nagelsmann’s short-term involvement in the German-hosted European Championships will last until the end of next summer, according to FAA sporting director Rudi Voller. In 2000 and this month, it saved them from going into the breach again.
But it raises many questions. Chief among them is this: Who will come after Euro 2024?
Before Nagelsmann even walks through the door at Germany’s FA headquarters in Frankfurt, speculation about his successor will likely begin.
But he wanted it that way.
Although the association Despite opting to sign him until the next World Cup in 2026, Nagelsmann sees himself as an honorary “Feuerwehrmann” (firefighter) to help his country before the inevitable return to club football. There is no option to extend his contract beyond next year’s domestic competition, according to a source familiar with the deal who asked not to be named while discussing confidential contracts.
The need to appoint another manager in 10 months will, at long last, redouble the efforts of German FA vice-chairman and Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watts to bring in Jurgen Klopp. Watzke has remained the preferred option since the Liverpool manager announced in March 2021 that Joachim Low will step down after the pandemic-delayed Euro 2020 that summer.
It still creates an uncomfortable situation for Klopp and his club. He will be everyone’s name in Germany for months until he officially decides one way or the other. And even if Klopp eventually removes himself, not everyone believes.
Klopp’s agent, Mark Kosick, said last week that his client “has a long-term contract with Liverpool (until 2026) and will not be available for a national coaching position” and the Premier League club is understood to be relaxed about the situation.
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Klopp has certainly been given no reason to believe he won’t stay for the full term of that contract. In the beginning, With the intention of starting a sabbatical in 2024, Klopp signed an extension in April 2022 because he felt obliged to oversee the rebuilding of the squad, which he knew was on the horizon. After last season’s struggles, he has looked re-energized in recent months and is excited about what is to come with his new Liverpool squad.
Not that the German job doesn’t appeal to me. Asked about the position by Sky Germany earlier this summer, Klopp said: “The job of national coach is a great honor, there’s no question about that. The problem with the whole thing is my integrity.
“I can’t say I’m going to leave Liverpool and go to Germany for a short time. That doesn’t work and the question isn’t even there. If I ever have to do that, I have to be available and I’m not at the moment. I have a responsibility to the club.
“Basically, it’s a fun job. But I don’t know if I’ll do anything completely different after I leave Liverpool. I want to keep my options open.
The best-case scenario for Liverpool could be a nonstop 2023-24 season. And should Klopp surprise Anfield with an exit next summer, Fenway Sports Group owners will not take too much comfort in the fact that they could get at least one big pick in Nagelsmann.
As for Nagelsmann, the onus will be on him to show he can learn the lessons of his premature exit from Munich less than two years later. Bayern’s players want more tactical clarity, strong man management and a close emotional bond.
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That first point seems particularly important in the national-team context, where meaningful training sessions between competitions can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
The players praised Voller and his coaching staff for making things easy in a 4-1 defeat by Japan on September 9 that sealed Hansi Flick’s fate and a 2-1 win over France three days later. Nagelsmann needs to curb his interventionism a bit.
A better relationship with the players can come from smart appointments in the coaching staff. Nagelsmann can call on trusted video analyst Benjamin Gluck and assistant coach Xaver Zembrod from his time in Bavaria, but former No. 2 Dino Topmöller is now head coach at Eintracht Frankfurt, which will require bringing in new faces.
Although Nagelsmann’s appointment has been welcomed by Bayern midfielders Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka, team-mate Manuel Neuer may not be too enthusiastic about today’s news.
The 37-year-old clashed with Nagelsmann over the sacking of Bayern’s goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic in January, as club and country captain Neuer began his recovery from a broken leg after the World Cup. If Neuer is ready to play for Germany again, it will be interesting to see how the new manager handles this sensitive issue.
In the meantime, the German FA should be happy with this appointment.
Nagelsmann was a formidable competitor from day one and easily the best German coach on the market. They managed to find him.
(Top photo: Ollie Scharf/AFP via Getty Images)