Julian Nagelsmann has taken over at RasenBallsport Leipzig, or RB Leipzig as one of the most exciting young coaches in world football.
His ability to coach young players and transform them into world stars means he is a destination for the elite youth around the world. So it came as no suprise when he decided to depart from Hoffenheim and join Leipzig, who according to Transfermarkt have a squad with an average age of 23.
Nagelsmann took over his first senior side Hoffenheim at just 28, after his playing career came to an early end thanks to a knee injury. His passion for the game never waivered and his desire to ensure playing football is fun for those involved has clearly had a positive effect on his career. He picked up Hoffenheim side which was languishing at the foot of the Bundesliga to propel them to European football.
This method of bringing the joy back into the game has helped Nagelsmann gain a reputation for bringing life back into career which seemed to be drifting into obscurity.
At Hoffenheim, he took on a struggling Kerem Demirbay and thrust him into the midfield of his side. Since then, Demirbay has improved leaps and bounds to represent the German international team and earn himself a move to Bayer Leverkusen for the 19/20 season.
Another player he reinvingorated at Hoffenheim was Mark Uth. Before the arrival of Nagelsmann to the hotseat he managed just the single goal in 13 months, but managed 24 goals under the tutelage of his new manager. His form was so impressive a move to fellow Bundesliga side Schalke materialised and has also been recognised by the German national team.
So it is no suprise that Evertons young winger Ademola Lookman looks set for a move to RB Leipzig, under Nagelsmann. The winger had enjoyed a fruitful stint at the club on loan in 2018, scoring five goals and one assist in 11 appearances, forcing the club to try and bring him in on a permanent deal.
But Everton held strong, with the club adamant it was best for the player and the club if Lookman continued his development on Merseyside, with first team opportunities around the corner for the young Englishman.
His direct competition for a first team spot was with Theo Walcott, the former Arsenal and England man who managed six goals and two assists in 40 appearances last season. There was some confusion as to why Lookman struggled to break into the first team.
Rumours of an attitude problem have surfaced, with some of the Toffee’s fans claiming he did not work hard enough to earn a first team opportunity.
There were no such complaints by those in Germany though, Leipzig continued their pursuit of the winger, coming back in January and now again this summer, hoping to get the signature of Lookman for a cool £25m. Other clubs were keen too, with Southampton and Crystal Palace amongst the suitors.
His first spell at Leipzig was under now Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhuttl, who himself has a desire to improve young player and develop them into all round better footballers, with a high level fitness and endeavour.
Lookman possesses electric pace, an ability to beat a man and as proven in Germany, an eye for goal. A perfect tool for a side who look to counter with pace, carrying the ball high up the pitch.
His defensive capabilities leave much to be desired, which may be his downfall in the Premier League, where every player needs to be rounded in all aspects of the game. But in some European leagues, the Bundesliga especially, these deficiencies can sometimes forgiven if the result is improvement in their natural strengths.
This time, it is Nagelsmann who is at the helm, who may not play with such an intense, full throttle approach but is a coach who enjoys the relationship with players as much as any other.
It is clear to all that Lookman has struggled to enjoy the past year, managing just 602 minutes for Everton. So a return to a happy surrounding and a coach who looks to bring enjoyment back into football is exactly what is needed to boost his confidence.
Speaking to last season, Lookman praised the German fans as well as the people and city of Leipzig, telling Bundesliga.com
“So friendly. The people here welcomed me. I came here on deadline day, and the way they welcomed me and made me feel at home here was very important. Just in terms of the facilities and everything that’s been given to me – I’m very grateful.”
“The fans never stop singing for the whole 90 minutes. It’s a good feeling to be on the pitch when fans are singing for 90 minutes – it gives you a real confidence boost.”
Leipzig will offer Champions League football, and the opportunity to challenge on all fronts in Germany, with the appointment of Nagelsmann hoping to be a step towards challenging the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund for the title. A far cry from what has been on offer at Everton since the move from Charlton Athletic in 2017.
With Everton looking to invest in other areas, Lookman hungry for a platform to express himself and Leipzig looking for strength in depth whilst retaining an opportunity for future profit, this is a move which suits all parties.
By: Conor Dunford