New Barcelona president Joan Laporta is already thinking about the future at the Camp Nou and is reportedly considering bringing in RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann to replace Ronald Koeman.
Nagelsmann was dubbed “baby Mourinho” in his early days at Hoffenheim and has emerged as one of Europe’s most highly-rated coaches. The Leipzig boss is still only 33 but took his team to the semi-finals of the Champions League last season.
The Bundesliga side also finished third in the table in 2019-20 and remains in contention for the title in the current campaign. Nagelsmann’s side are second, just two points behind Bayern Munich, despite losing star forward Timo Werner to Chelsea in the summer.
Nagelsmann is currently “ahead of Ronald Koeman in the list of coaches that Joan Laporta is considering for his new project at Barcelona,” according to Cadena SER’s Manu Carreño.
Yet that doesn’t mean Koeman is heading out just yet. Carreño also reports that Laporta has a lot of respect for the Dutchman and he could stay if Barca wins a title this season.
Koeman still has a year to run on his current deal with Barca, and the team remains in contention in La Liga and the Copa del Rey. The Catalan giants are second in the table, six points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, and play Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey on April 17.
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Who Is Nagelsmann?
Nagelsmann has risen to prominence after spells in the Bundesliga with Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig. The German was just 28 when he took charge of Hoffenheim, becoming the youngest ever Bundesliga coach.
He enjoyed instant success in his first coaching role, taking over a Hoffenheim side in 17th place in the table and guiding them to safety in his first season in charge. Nagelsmann followed that up by guiding Hoffenheim to a fourth-placed finish and a taste of Champions League football for the first time in the club’s history.
Hoffenheim was knocked out by Liverpool in the Champions League play-offs, but the following season brought more progress. Hoffenheim finished third which granted automatic qualification to the Champions League group stages
Nagelsmann’s exploits attracted plenty of interest and he took charge of RB Leipzig on a four-year contract for the 2019-20 season where he has continued to break records.
RB Leipzig again finished third and reached the last four of the Champions League last season before going out to French champions Paris Saint-Germain.
Nagelsmann Talks Mourinho & Guardiola
The tag of ‘baby Mourinho’ has long since disappeared as Nagelsmann has established himself as a coach. The RB Leipzig coach told the Bundesliga that former goalkeeper Tim Wiese was the first to come up with the nickname although he’s not entirely sure why.
“Yeah, I got called Baby Mourinho in the early days at Hoffenheim, when I was assistant coach there. Tim Wiese was often training on Sundays because he’d not played the day before and all of a sudden he came up with the name Baby Mourinho,” he said. “I don’t know why, exactly, but maybe he could see some similarities. I don’t think our philosophies are that identical.”
Indeed Nagelsmann told France Football that the biggest influences on his career have actually been former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola and current Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, as reported by the Bundesliga.
“My role model is Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, ” he said. “I always observed his work, especially the way his team would burst forwards within seconds of winning the ball. He made a name for himself that is worthy of Johan Cruyff. Only very few teams have managed to dominate possession by playing so high up the pitch. Guardiola inspired me a lot, as did Thomas Tuchel, who was my coach at Augsburg [in the reserves from 2007-2008]. He’s a perfectionist, it was very intensive and challenging with him.”
There’s no doubt that Nagelsmann is one of Europe’s most exciting young coaches currently, and it’s no surprise to see Barca join the list of clubs reportedly interested in his services.
Yet Koeman has spoken about his future recently and insisted he wants to stay but needs to sit down and discuss the future with the club’s new president.