Dayot Upamecano has claimed he turned down an opportunity to join Manchester United as a teenager because Ralf Rangnick presented such a persuasive alternative.

The defender, who will leave RB Leipzig to join Bayern Munich at the end of this season, was targeted by United as a teenage prospect when he was with French club Valenciennes.

He elected to turn down United and move to Austrian club Salzburg, Upamecano says, after being wowed by Rangnick's precise vision for his career.

At the time, Rangnick was sporting director for Salzburg and Leipzig, with both clubs part of the Red Bull empire, and talking Upamecano into a move proved one of many successes he achieved in that role.

United had tempted the youngster, however, and Upamecano told The Athletic: "I was a young boy. I wanted to sign for them straight away. Manchester United! But then my parents took me aside and said: 'Let's think carefully about this'.

"We thought about it for a long time and then decided that going 'etape par etape' [step by step] was the best option for me. Everything Ralf said came true."

Upamecano was loaned out to Liefering before returning to make an impact with Salzburg while still in his teens, and at the age of 18, in January 2017, he was moved through the ranks to join Leipzig.

Rangnick, who had already enjoyed one spell as head coach of Leipzig, returned for another in 2018, and Upamecano said: "Ralf was the most important coach for me. He's a professor, a scientist of football, and he also cares about everything. He's always there for you with advice on matters football and non-football, every single day."

Before joining Bayern, Upamecano has the chance on Thursday to land a DFB-Pokal title with Leipzig as they head into the final in Berlin against Borussia Dortmund.

Julian Nagelsmann, who succeeded Rangnick in 2019, has been another major influence on the career of Upamecano, who describes the 33-year-old as "an unbelievable manager".

Like Upamecano, Nagelsmann will also move to Bayern at the season's end.

"He really takes you to another level," Upamecano said. "For example, because of Julian, I have improved a lot in terms of opening the game from the defence with precise passes into the midfield, and he told me to use my dribbling abilities in order to create spaces going forward."

That is borne out by data that shows Upamecano has progressed significantly while at Leipzig.

Following his mid-season arrival in 2017, Upamecano had an overall passing accuracy of 78.6 per cent in the Bundesliga, while his accuracy with passes ending in the final third of the field was just 46.2 per cent.

These numbers belong firmly in Upamecano's past, because his precision now shows a marked improvement.

In 2017-18, he stepped up those percentages to 83.7 and 55 in the Bundesliga, while attempting 130 passes into the final third of the pitch.

But in 2019-20, his overall accuracy stood at 89.1 per cent and his accuracy into the final third was a healthy 74 per cent, with Upamecano attempting 232 balls into that attacking area in league games. Each figure put him in the top 10 for Bundesliga defenders who played at least 20 games.

This season has seen a minor step back, but an 88.5 per cent total accuracy and 70 per cent accuracy into the final third continues to reflect well on the French defender, a player United must sorely regret failing to recruit.

Hansi Flick has ended weeks of speculation over his Bayern Munich future by confirming he wishes to leave the club at the end of this season.

After taking over from Niko Kovac in November 2019, the 56-year-old led the Bavarians to a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble in his first campaign in charge.

He added a UEFA Super Cup, DFL-Supercup and the Club World Cup this term, with another top-flight title also looking likely after Bayern opened up a seven-point lead on Saturday.

However, it has recently been reported that Flick was considering his future and, speaking after a 3-2 win over Wolfsburg, the German coach revealed he will depart at the end of the season.

That means one of the biggest jobs in European football is about to become available - so who is in the running to step into the role?

Julian Nagelsmann

One of the most well-regarded young coaches in Europe, Julian Nagelsmann has long been admired by the decision-makers at Bayern Munich.

With speculation mounting over Flick earlier this week, the 33-year-old was forced to deny that discussions with the Bavarians had already begun.

"There have been no talks and we are currently in no talks," he said.

It has been previously reported that RB Leipzig would demand €15-20m to release their head coach from his contract.

But Bayern could well view that as a snip for a manager who has long been touted for the top job in German football and has previously attracted interest from Real Madrid.

Jurgen Klopp

The last manager to deny Bayern the Bundesliga title, Jurgen Klopp is another man who Die Roten have made no secret of their desire to appoint one day.

Despite his ties with Borussia Dortmund, the 53-year-old has never publicly declared that he would not make the move to Munich at some point in his career.

He has, however, recently signalled his intention to see out the remainder of his contract at Liverpool.

Amid links to the soon-to-be-vacant Germany job, Klopp said: "You sign a contract and you normally try to stick to that contract, don't you?"

Ralf Rangnick

Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt, the German national team - nobody seems to know where Ralf Rangnick might go next. 

Out of work since leaving a role with Red Bull last year, the German's appointment would not require any costly negotiations with a rival.

And, while he might represent a slightly left-field choice to be the new Bayern boss, nobody can doubt his coaching credentials.

So many of the managers the Munich club covet have been influenced by Rangnick, so why not go for the original?

Joachim Low

Flick's imminent availability comes amid strong links with the role of head coach for the German national team.

That vacancy has come up as a result of Joachim Low revealing that he will bring a 15-year stint in the job to a close after the European Championship.

So, could the 61-year-old take on his first job in club management since he took charge of Austria Wien for the 2003-04 season?

Low's only trophy in German football came when he led Stuttgart to the DFB-Pokal in 1997, but his CV is certainly enhanced by that World Cup win in 2014.

Miroslav Klose

Having enjoyed remarkable success since Flick stepped up from his role as assistant to Kovac, Bayern could choose to go down a similar route following his departure by appointing Miroslav Klose.

The Germany legend moved up from his role as U17s coach over the summer to become second in command for the first team and might be a surprise choice for another promotion at the end of the season.

The 42-year-old is popular with supporters, though his lack of experience might count against him given the quality of the other candidates.

Still, if Bayern value continuity above all else in their search for a Flick replacement, don't count Klose out.

Ralf Rangnick has stated he is no longer in the running to take over as Schalke's next sporting director due to "numerous uncertainties within the club".

The former RB Leipzig boss has been out of work since leaving his role as Red Bull's head of sport and development last year.

Rangnick had been in talks with Schalke, where he previously spent two spells as head coach, over returning to Veltins-Arena in a boardroom position.

However, the 62-year-old - who recently declared an interest in succeeding Joachim Low as Germany head coach - has now ended discussions with his former side.

"Schalke is very close to my heart," Rangnick said in a statement on Saturday. 

"The overwhelmingly positive reactions from members of the Konigsblauen community have influenced me and confirmed my feelings for this very special club.

"I would have loved to have been involved in helping Schalke on its difficult road back to its former strength. 

"Unfortunately, due to the numerous uncertainties within the club at the moment, I do not see myself being able to take on sporting responsibility at S04 at the moment.

"My wish for all members and supporters of the club is that they will successfully join forces to unify Schalke on and off the pitch and lead it back to the top."

Rangnick's rejection comes just two days after Schalke board members Jens Buchta and Peter Lange revealed they had held positive talks with the ex-Hoffenheim coach.

And Saturday's announcement came as a shock to Schalke, who are 11 points adrift at the bottom of the Bundesliga standings with nine games to play.

"We are surprised by Rangnick's rejection and especially the short notice," Buchta, chairman of the club's supervisory board, said in a statement.

"The board was determined to reach an agreement with Ralf Rangnick in a second round [of talks] agreed for the coming week. It is regrettable that this will not happen.

"At the same time, the supervisory board has a certain understanding of Rangnick's decision in view of the events of the last 10 days. 

"The supervisory board will now strive for the position of sports director to be filled as quickly as possible."

Rangnick is considered one of the frontrunners to take over as Germany head coach after Low announced last week he will step aside after the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament.

Germany Under-21s boss Stefan Kuntz and Bayern Munich's Hansi Flick are also believed to be in the running.

Ralf Rangnick would be interested in succeeding Joachim Low as Germany head coach.

The former RB Leipzig boss has been out of work since leaving as the Red Bull head of sport and development last year.

Low announced this week he will be stepping down from his role with the national team after the Euro 2020 finals, having been in charge for 15 years.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has already distanced himself from the job, while Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann, another popular choice, appears unlikely to move into the international scene at the age of 33.

Rangnick, however, would happily speak with the German Football Association (DFB) about the opportunity.

"It's a job that matters to anybody. In general, I can imagine many things," he told Sky Sport.

Julian Nagelsmann does not expect Jurgen Klopp to be tempted by the Germany job after Joachim Low announced he would step down after Euro 2020.

The search for Low's successor is underway, and a poll by Germany's Sky Sport News broadcaster on Tuesday showed Liverpool manager Klopp would be a popular pick.

With over 7,000 votes counted, some 54.6 per cent selected Klopp as the right man for the job, with Ralf Rangnick next in line with a 15.4 per cent share.

Klopp's Liverpool are enduring a deep dip in the Premier League after last season's title triumph, and six successive defeats in the competition at Anfield have seen them slip to eighth place.

But Klopp has enjoyed huge success during his Liverpool reign, winning the Champions League in 2018-19 before the Reds ended a 30-year wait for the domestic title.

He was also highly successful during his time with Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, where he twice won the Bundesliga.

Nagelsmann, whose RB Leipzig side face Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday, said: "Jurgen Klopp is an outstanding coach. But I think that both Liverpool and Jurgen are extremely satisfied with each other."

At the age of 33, Nagelsmann appears unlikely to fancy a switch from club management into the international game.

He has performed wonders with Leipzig since being appointed in 2019, achieving a Bundesliga win percentage of 58.62, with 34 victories and just seven defeats in 58 league games in charge.

If he sustains his early coaching performance, the Germany job may be one that Nagelsmann looks at in the future.

For now, he is keen to see how Low bows out, hoping a 15-year reign can end on a high note.

"First of all, it's sad news, but he is still in office," Nagelsmann said. "That's the most important thing: that he will continue and be on the touchline for this big tournament.

"He's had an extreme impact in German football and especially on the national team. He's had great success and defined an era with titles, a development and a second rebuild during his spell."

Nagelsmann pointed to Low bringing through different generations to form new Germany sides, and said he was optimistic the latest incarnation can be trophy contenders at the European Championship.

"I am sure of it, because we have a lot of talented players, which is also an achievement of his," Nagelsmann said. "It's thanks to him making difficult decisions during crucial moments.

"He has also been criticised for this but had a great career as the coach of the German national team nonetheless. I hope he will find a glorious end and then I'm keen on finding out where he will leave his footsteps next."

Germany great Lothar Matthaus backed former Schalke and Leipzig boss Rangnick, who is currently without a club, telling Sky Sport News: "He's free. He's someone who can build something."

The next Germany coach will be expected to lead the team at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, although the qualifying process is set to begin on Low's watch, with games against Iceland, Romania and North Macedonia coming up in late March.

Rudi Voller, the former Germany striker who went on to manage the team from 2000 to 2004, is thankful Low is being afforded the chance to go out on his own terms.

Voller said: "Jogi Low's decision deserves respect. He and his teams have given us great football in many tournaments and by winning the title at the 2014 World Cup, achieved great things for German sport.

"Now Jogi has the chance to go to the European Championship this summer and to achieve a wonderful conclusion. We will all keep our fingers crossed for him."

Thomas Tuchel's view of football was changed by Ralf Rangnick and in Ralph Hasenhuttl he is looking forward to going up against another coach who worked alongside him.

Chelsea head to Southampton on Saturday and Tuchel will pit his wits against Hasenhuttl, who coached RB Leipzig during Rangnick's time as director of football at the Red Bull Arena.

Tuchel was a defender at Ulm for Rangnick between 1997 and 1998 and, following the premature end to his playing career due to a knee injury, was hired as a youth coach at Stuttgart by him two years later.

Rangnick is credited with revolutionising German football by introducing an intense high-pressing, counter-attacking style that was widely adopted.

His influence on Tuchel is clear, with Chelsea allowing the fewest opposition passes per defensive action (PPDA) in the Premier League since his first game in charge against Wolves on January 27.

Across the entire season, Southampton rank fourth in the league with a PPDA of 10.7, behind only Liverpool (10.4), Chelsea (10.3) and Leeds United (8.9).

"I was a player with Ralf Rangnick. I played in the third and second division and learned from Ralf that it's not necessary to follow the striker to the toilet," Tuchel told the media.

"He made a third-division team stronger than we actually were with brand new tactics, the back four not man marking but defending in the space in a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1.

"That was a gamechanger for me to watch football games after my experience with Ralf. It was different because I had a totally different view of what's going on.

"Ralf had his influence at Leipzig when he worked with Ralph as more or less the father of everything that happened in Leipzig.

"There are many coaches influenced by this philosophy, but I truly believe everybody has to find his own style, everybody needs to be authentic. You need to be yourself. You cannot copy anybody.

"The way from Ralph is very impressive. He had a very good season at Ingolstadt, very successful at Leipzig and now a big impact with his aggressive style of playing at Southampton.

"This is the challenge that we have to face. I cannot give you a reason why there is a trend, this is too much of a question for me right now."

Tuchel is unbeaten in six games since taking over at Chelsea, winning five straight since a 0-0 draw with Wolves in his first match.

Olivier Giroud found the back of the net in their 2-0 success over Newcastle United last Monday and Tuchel intends to give the France striker time to stake his claim for a new deal, with his contract due to expire at the end of the season.

Tuchel said: "No decision is made because it's too soon to make these decisions. [It's] too soon in the season and I haven't had enough time to make these decisions because I just started three weeks ago and we need more time to get to know the group better. Everybody deserves more time to show their value.

"What I can say is that I am super happy that he's here. He's one of the top strikers in the box, he's physically strong, he has an incredible first touch and he's strong in headers.

"He did an amazing game against Newcastle. He's very strong, very positive in training, very impressive.

"Right now, he plays a key role in the squad with a lot of young offensive players. He is a key figure, maybe not because he plays every three days 96 minutes, but because of the way he behaves and with his experience on a daily basis, he has a huge impact in the most positive way.

"This is what I can say. When the decision arrives, we will make it."

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