PSG set to bet on Tuchel for European top prize

Thomas Tuchel, a winner of the German Cup with Borussia Dortmund last year, is rumoured to be the next Paris Saint-Germain coach.
Thomas Tuchel, a winner of the German Cup with Borussia Dortmund last year, is rumoured to be the next Paris Saint-Germain coach.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • Thomas Tuchel is not a big-name coach, he has won few trophies and has never managed a squad of stars, but French and German media agree that he will probably succeed Unai Emery at Paris Saint-Germain.

German website SportBuzzer reported that the 44-year-old has already signed a two-year contract.

In France, sports daily L'Equipe said it is "premature to say the deal is signed" but "it's only a question of timing", probably at the end of the season.

Emery appears to be merely biding his time in the PSG hot seat after the crushing elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid.

Tuchel's modest playing career peaked early with a handful of matches for Stuttgart Kickers in the German second division in 1992-93.

He went on to coach Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, winning the German Cup after succeeding the highly successful Jurgen Klopp.

Tuchel was recommended to the camp of Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani by the Qatari consul to Germany, L'Equipe reported. He would be the first German to lead PSG.

Tuchel has been without a club since his tumultuous departure from Dortmund in May last year after a series of public disagreements with the club's chief executive.

Bayern Munich tapped up Tuchel recently as a possible successor to Jupp Heynckes, who insisted he will not stay after this season.

But Tuchel "was already signed with a club", said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

This interest from big clubs shows Tuchel's standing despite his lack of trophies.

That German Cup run last year included a 3-2 victory over Bayern in a crazy semi-final. He also led Dortmund to second behind Bayern in the Bundesliga in 2016.

But he has never progressed beyond the last eight of the Champions League, the trophy PSG's owners covet most.

Tuchel is famed for his passion for tactics. Niko Kovac, who manages Eintracht Frankfurt, the losing team in last year's German Cup final, called Tuchel a "chorus master" and praised his "genius for playing different systems week after week".

Tuchel also has a reputation for man-management, especially with younger players. He attracted attention at Dortmund for the spectacular way he developed such rising stars as Ousmane Dembele, now at Barcelona, Christian Pulisic and Julian Weigl.

But Tuchel reportedly also had difficulties with veteran players he wanted to phase out.

One reason offered for Emery's difficulties in Paris is a lack of experience handling a squad of stars.

Tuchel had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a star with a big ego in Dortmund who is now at Arsenal, but PSG have a dressing room full of prima donnas.

Neymar's entourage reportedly pushed for Luis Enrique, the former Barcelona coach.

Veterans such as Thiago Silva and Italian playmaker Marco Verratti have let it be known that they favoured the return of Carlo Ancelotti, who managed the Paris club from 2011 to 2013.

SportsBuzzer said Tuchel is already working on what he needs to do at PSG.

But history suggests he would not have much time to show he can do better than Laurent Blanc, who took PSG to the Champions League quarter-finals in 2015 and 2016 and was fired in June 2016.

For PSG, Tuchel represents another long-odds bet, but the prize, for both sides, remains huge.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2018, with the headline 'PSG set to bet on Tuchel for European top prize'. Print Edition | Subscribe