RB Leipzig – Can Julian Nagelsmann Take Them to the Next Level?

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RasenBallsport Leipzig were founded on 19 May 2009, almost exactly ten years ago.

They played their inaugural season in the Oberliga – the fifth tier of German football – at the 5,000 seater Stadion am Bad in Markranstädt.

Founded and funded by Red Bull and their co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz, their stated aim was to play Bundesliga football within eight years.

It took them seven.

An extraordinary second-placed finish in their first campaign has been followed by further strong finishes, as well as being DFB Pokal finalists last season.

But with a ten-point gap to the big two of Dortmund and Bayern Munich – and European success also yet to arrive – what is required for Leipzig to reach the next level?

Perhaps the long-awaited arrival of new boss Julian Nagelsmann will provide the impetus needed. The former Hoffenheim boss’ philosophy of aggressive, attacking football played by a young core of players should be well-suited to his new employer.

Given the wonders he worked at Rhein-Neckar-Arena with far lesser resources – only Bayern (201) and Dortmund (152) collected more points than Hoffenheim (140) during Nagelsmann’s three years in charge – it’s no stretch to imagine a Bundesliga tripoly before too long.

Their squad is an exciting collection of talents. A potent attack is spearheaded by Timo Werner (£1.88) who – like his side – has yet to fully explode on the European or world stage, but is nonetheless a deadly domestic marksman, with 50 goals in 93 league appearances for Leipzig. His value on our index has risen accordingly over the past six months, by 48%.

Whether he stays at the Red Bull Arena remains to be seen, given he is in the final year of his contract and that Bayern are targeting a Robert Lewandowski (£0.94) replacement.

The other end of Die Roten Bullen’s spine is just as impressive, with young Frenchman Dayot Upamecano (£1.04) turning in some impressive performances since joining from RB Salzburg in January 2017 for a reported fee of €10 million.

He has represented France at every level from U16 to U21 and it’s only his country’s remarkable depth at centre back – think Raphael Varane (£0.64), Samuel Umtiti (£0.70) and Clement Lenglet (£0.47) (let alone Aymeric Laporte (£1.48) who can’t get in the squad) – that has stopped the former Golden Boy nominee from getting a senior cap.

There is English interest at the club too, with 18 year old Arsenal starlet Emile Smith-Rowe (£1.36) spending the second half of last season on loan in Saxony. Given injury, he only made three appearances – including coming off the bench against Bayern – but with Gunners boss Unai Emery unlikely to grant him a first team spot next term, he may well end up back in Leipzig. Developing under Nagelsmann wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

With Champions League qualification assured, Nagelsmann will have a full summer to mould his charges into a coherent outfit. The end product could be one of Europe’s most exciting sides to watch.


About Author

Rob is a football writer who has featured on MARCA, Crystal Palace and Mundial.

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