Bright prospects face off on touchline

Monaco's Leonardo Jardim (top) and Thomas Tuchel of Dortmund have been making Europe's top clubs take note of their results. Jardim's Ligue 1 leaders hold a 3-2 advantage ahead of their Champions League quarter-final second leg.
Monaco's Leonardo Jardim (above) and Thomas Tuchel of Dortmund have been making Europe's top clubs take note of their results. Jardim's Ligue 1 leaders hold a 3-2 advantage ahead of their Champions League quarter-final second leg.
Monaco's Leonardo Jardim (top) and Thomas Tuchel of Dortmund have been making Europe's top clubs take note of their results. Jardim's Ligue 1 leaders hold a 3-2 advantage ahead of their Champions League quarter-final second leg.
Monaco's Leonardo Jardim and Thomas Tuchel (above) of Dortmund have been making Europe's top clubs take note of their results. Jardim's Ligue 1 leaders hold a 3-2 advantage ahead of their Champions League quarter-final second leg.

MONACO • There is just a year in age between them, neither had a distinguished playing career and both have been linked with moves to the Premier League. Leonardo Jardim and Thomas Tuchel have plenty in common.

They are two of Europe's more exciting younger coaches, but only one will take his team into the last four of the Champions League as Monaco and Borussia Dortmund meet in their quarter-final second leg today.

Regardless of what happens, they will continue to be linked to jobs at supposedly bigger European clubs in the coming months.

English media reports have named both on a potential shortlist of successors to Arsene Wenger, should the Frenchman's reign at Arsenal finally come to an end. Jardim has also been talked about in relation to Juventus amid suggestions Massimiliano Allegri could move on. Tuchel's name has come up in speculation about Luis Enrique's replacement at Barcelona.

"I don't know. I am so focused on Monaco that I'm not thinking about my future. I have two more years on my contract and I feel good," Jardim, 42, told Portuguese sports daily O Jogo in an interview last month when asked if he was considering moving on.

Tuchel, 43, was less expansive when pressed on his own future a couple of months ago. "I'm on a contract with Dortmund and I'm happy here," said the German.

Both are still fighting for a major honour as a coach, but they have each had to prove themselves in their profession without having been players of much note.

Born in Venezuela, Jardim grew up on the island of Madeira - better known as the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo - and he started coaching there with lower-league Camacha in his late 20s.

He studied physical education at university in Madeira but opted to coach on the mainland and has never looked back. His impressive time in charge of Sporting Lisbon paved the way for him to succeed Claudio Ranieri at Monaco in 2014, and he has made them Europe's most prolific team this season, with 140 goals in all competitions.

Monaco are top of Ligue 1 and in the French Cup semi-finals while still pursuing their European dream, despite selling the likes of James Rodriguez, Anthony Martial, Yannick Carrasco and Layvin Kurzawa since Jardim's appointment.

"I recognise the skill of those who do more with less. I see this change in perception, the tendency to want to see if the coach is able to add value to what is there and not just buy, buy, buy," he told O Jogo.

A former sports science student with a degree in English, Tuchel's modest playing career was cut short by injury. But he emerged as a promising coach at Mainz, taking over the first team in 2009.

His work there allowed him to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund in 2015 and the work he has done with a young side, as well as the way in which he dealt with the traumatic events last week, mean his reputation keeps growing.

"He is clearly rejuvenating the team in the very literal sense of the word," says German football commentator Ian Holyman. "Teenagers Christian Pulisic and Ousmane Dembele, in particular, have been given free rein and flourished.

"The fact they put up such valiant resistance in the first leg has only enamoured him further to the Dortmund faithful and football fans Europe-wide."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'Bright prospects face off on touchline'. Print Edition | Subscribe