Thomas Tuchel… is he the right man for Neymar and the PSG job?

There are only a few coaches who have their pick of Europe’s top clubs. Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte, maybe Jose Mourinho. And now, it seems, Thomas Tuchel.

Tuchel is yet to enjoy the success of those named above, and yet the young German coach is as coveted as any of them. Just weeks after turning down Bayern Munich, the man who has no more than a single German Cup win to his name looks set to take the reins at Paris Saint-Germain.

The 44-year-old has agreed a two-year deal at the Parc des Princes, and will take over from Unai Emery this summer, Sportbuzzer reported this week. If true, it is quite a coup for PSG, who would have beaten not just Bayern, but also Chelsea and Arsenal in the race to hire Tuchel.

Paris Saint-Germain have seemingly beaten a series of top clubs to Thomas Tuchel's signature

Paris Saint-Germain have seemingly beaten a series of top clubs to Thomas Tuchel's signature

Paris Saint-Germain have seemingly beaten a series of top clubs to Thomas Tuchel’s signature

The master tactician only has one major honour to his name as a manager — the German Cup

The master tactician only has one major honour to his name as a manager — the German Cup

The master tactician only has one major honour to his name as a manager — the German Cup

But is the German really all he is cracked up to be? Is he really the man to finally get the best out of PSG’s crudely assembled troupe of expensive superstars?

Since he left Borussia Dortmund under a cloud at the end of last season, Tuchel has spent a year on sabbatical, and his name has been thrown into the mix whenever a position opens up among Europe’s elite. The move to stylish Paris seems a natural step for a man who has spent the last year or two transitioning from an uptight, tracksuited German coach, into a well-dressed, easy-going man of the world.

Last September, he made headlines when he posed for a fashion shoot in New York for Die Zeit’s men’s magazine. In negotiations for the PSG job, he is said to have impressed his interviewers by speaking in near perfect French.

Tuchel made waves when he posed for a shoot in New York for Die Zeit's men's magazine

Tuchel made waves when he posed for a shoot in New York for Die Zeit's men's magazine

Tuchel made waves when he posed for a shoot in New York for Die Zeit’s men’s magazine

Yet the compulsive tactician is still in there, and it is he who PSG have hired. Despite his lack of silverware, Tuchel’s tactical intelligence, his obsessive tinkering and his highly modern style of football has won him countless admirers in recent years.

His two years at Dortmund should really have borne more fruit, as he took a team reeling from the implosion of Jurgen Klopp’s tenure back to where they wanted to be, and in many ways even improved them. His brand of football, possession-based but ruthless going forward, seemed to suit Dortmund perfectly. 

It may also suit PSG, who are a team crying out for a more developed tactical approach. When Bayern and Real Madrid outplayed the Parisians in this season’s Champions League, the two-dimensional style and reliance on that awe-inducing front three were brutally exposed. Tuchel, PSG will hope, can tailor this team so it better serves the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Tuchel's possession-based football worked for Borussia Dortmund during his time there

Tuchel's possession-based football worked for Borussia Dortmund during his time there

Tuchel’s possession-based football worked for Borussia Dortmund during his time there

Neymar is said to be uninspired by the idea of playing for the former Dortmund manager

Neymar is said to be uninspired by the idea of playing for the former Dortmund manager

Neymar is said to be uninspired by the idea of playing for the former Dortmund manager

While some reports have suggested that Neymar, uninspired by Tuchel’s appointment, may push harder for a move to Real Madrid this summer, the Brazilian superstar is said to feature strongly in Tuchel’s plans.

Whereas Edinson Cavani may be moved on, Tuchel wants to base this team around its €222million (£191m) man, and back him up with a more cohesive midfield unit. That, according to some reports, may see him target midfielders such as Julian Weigl and N’Golo Kante in the summer window.

If PSG can persuade Neymar to stay, there is a good chance that Tuchel will get the best out of him. Though he has never coached superstars of that size, he had a good record at Dortmund of keeping his divas onside.

Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani is expected to be moved on by the 44-year-old

Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani is expected to be moved on by the 44-year-old

Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani is expected to be moved on by the 44-year-old

But there are reasons to hope that he will be able to get the best out of Neymar at PSG

But there are reasons to hope that he will be able to get the best out of Neymar at PSG

But there are reasons to hope that he will be able to get the best out of Neymar at PSG

He got the most out of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, affording the striker enough trust and freedom without being too lenient. In fact, Tuchel had a better relationship with Dortmund’s more glamorous names than he did with his more grounded, on-field leaders such as Marcel Schmelzer.

His arrival at PSG may also be good news for PSG’s German stars. Julian Draxler and Kevin Trapp have struggled to secure a place in the starting line-up under Emery, and will hope that their compatriot may offer a change in fortunes.

The big concern, as ever with Tuchel, is less his relationship with the players and more that with his employers. At both Mainz and Dortmund, Tuchel left with emotions running high, as trust between him and the club hierarchies completely imploded.

Already, there are conflicting reports about Tuchel’s relationship with PSG sporting director Antero Henrique. L’Equipe have suggested that Henrique had favoured hiring Sergio Conceicao, and is now so furious that his Qatari bosses overruled him that he is thinking of leaving the club this summer. Other reports have dismissed this, claiming that Henrique was the man to open discussions with Tuchel.

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante is expected to be a target for Tuchel and PSG this summer

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante is expected to be a target for Tuchel and PSG this summer

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is expected to be a target for Tuchel and PSG this summer

Kylian Mbappe is another player that Tuchel will be hoping to improve for the Parisians

Kylian Mbappe is another player that Tuchel will be hoping to improve for the Parisians

Kylian Mbappe is another player that Tuchel will be hoping to improve for the Parisians

Whatever the reality, any sign of disharmony should ring alarm bells with the Qatar Sports Investment group who run PSG. Tuchel has previous with allowing internal spats to spiral out of control – just ask Arsenal scout Sven Mislintat – and they will want to nip any blossoming rivalries within the club firmly in the bud.

At some point or another, Tuchel’s relationship with his employers is bound to be put to the test. But his first challenge will be a footballing one. The master tactician – ‘maitre du jeu’, as L’Equipe have labelled him – now has a chance to prove to the world that his reputation is not just a case of football hipster hype. 

If he takes it, he will have earned his place alongside Guardiola, Ancelotti and the rest. 

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