Julian Nagelsmann has built a reputation as one of the most exciting young coaches in world football and his next move after Hoffenheim was always going to be eagerly anticipated.
But an announcement on Thursday that Nagelsmann will be leaving at the end of the 2018-19 season to take over at RB Leipzig came somewhat out of the blue.
Since leading Hoffenheim into the Champions League for the second season in a row, plenty of clubs have been waiting to see what Nagelsmann would opt to do next.
Indeed, as soon as Jupp Heynckes confirmed he would not be extending his fourth spell at Bayern Munich, Nagelsmann was being touted as a possible successor, although some senior figures in Bavaria aired their doubts. Arsenal were among the other sides reportedly interested.
It bears repeating – Julian Nagelsmann is only 30 years old. Hoffenheim are the first club he has managed; he took charge aged just 28. The Bundesliga has never seen anything like this before.
Nagelsmann, though, is setting a path for others to follow – both aspiring coaches and clubs. Schalke finished second in the 2017-18 table, below Bayern but above Hoffenheim, under 32-year-old Domenico Tedesco.
“My appointment as head coach certainly paved the way for other young coaches,” Nagelsmann exclusively told Omnisport last year.
“However, I could also have fallen flat on my face. If it doesn’t work out, people will say, ‘How can you do such a load of rubbish as a young head coach?'”
Few would have been able to make a success of themselves as a 20-something head coach in one of the most competitive leagues in world football.
But Nagelsmann is one of a kind, his decision to confirm his Hoffenheim departure a year in advance another surprise move that will raise plenty of eyebrows in the game.
“It was important for me to work out all the conditions early,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
“I owe it to everyone who has worked for TSG as well as the fans and players after our historic qualification for the Champions League, not to burden them with speculation and uncertainty about my future.
“Now everyone knows and we can move on professionally to concentrate on the tasks that matter.”
Many would assume Nagelsmann’s authority will be immediately affected, but he is only following the example set by Pep Guardiola who announced he was leaving Bayern for Manchester City well in advance.
It will be fascinating to see how matches play out between Hoffenheim and Nagelsmann’s future employers next season – Heynckes’ replacement Niko Kovac led Eintracht Frankfurt to DFB-Pokal glory over Bayern in May – with Leipzig recording something of a coup to land the highly rated coach.
Leipzig finished sixth in the Bundesliga last season, only two points behind Hoffenheim but heading into the Europa League instead of the competition’s bigger, more prestigious brother is a blow considering the rapid rise of the Red Bull-backed club.
Nagelsmann will be expected to bring plenty of innovation to Leipzig – it will be one of the major reasons they elected to prise him away from Hoffenheim.
“Boredom is the worst factor, this is a big danger for any well-functioning relationship – be this for me as a head coach working together with the players or be this in a private relationship,” Nagelsmann, who installed a giant television screen at Hoffenheim’s training ground, said to Omnisport.
“There has always got to be that bit of fire. I have a good rhetoric and I can excite groups of people. I already managed to do that in school. You need this gift in order to stand in front of a group of people and to convince them of an idea.
“You need to be very brave if you want to be a successful head coach – you need to try new things, not be afraid of making mistakes and of negative consequences. And you need to have good tactical knowledge.”
Opting for Leipzig can certainly be considered brave, with all eyes on Nagelsmann to see if he can continue over-performing with another of the Bundesliga’s new boys in 2019 and beyond.