Louis van Gaal may be less than two months into his reign as the manager of Manchester United, but it would appear that a successor has already been identified in Jurgen Klopp, the well regarded coach of Borussia Dortmund.
Manchester United link
It has been claimed that Dortmund officials have privately conceded that they expect Klopp to leave the club he has served so well at the end of his contract, that expires in 2018, and see Old Trafford as his future destination.
However, should Manchester United indeed pursue Klopp, then he ought to resist their overtures - as tempting as they may be - in favour of a move to Arsenal after Arsene Wenger finally relinquishes power in north London.
Wenger signed a new Arsenal contract only this summer, one that ties him to the club for another three years, but there is a sense that he will retire from the position following the expiration of this contract.
Klopp would still have another 12 months remaining on his deal when Wenger’s time is up in 2017, but it should be a far more straightforward task negotiating his release with only one year left of five year agreement than if a move was made sooner.
If Dortmund already have a belief that Klopp will indeed depart when the opportunity arises then, although loath to lose him, may not be particularly begrudging if he requested to leave a year early. Should Arsenal themselves act decisively, then it would leave BVB with plenty of time to pursue a successor.
Van Gaal, like Wenger, is also contracted for three years and, if he enjoys a sustained period of success in this time, it would be interesting to see what decision Manchester United make with regards his future.
Ryan Giggs is clearly being groomed as a future manager with those at Old Trafford hoping he can develop into their very own Pep Guardiola, but could it be the now Bayern Munich head coach’s current adversary that replaces Van Gaal?
Those at Dortmund must have reason to suspect Klopp will depart for Manchester, although perhaps it is based on assumption rather than any concrete evidence. Yet while he may be linked with United, Klopp would be far more suited to Arsenal.
Ideal for Arsenal
Klopp would be the ideal replacement for Wenger, of that there is no doubt. An exponent of free-flowing and expressive football with a dedication to develop new talent, Klopp’s ideals dovetail nicely with those Wenger has implemented during his illustrious Arsenal tenure.
The 47-year-old has presided over the rises of Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski, Shinji Kagawa and Nuri Sahin, all who left BVB for clubs of greater standing, to establish himself as a coach with a real talent to transform players with potential into elite performers.
But these were not just players of supreme ability thrown into a side in the hope that they would produce the goods, rather cogs in a system that enabled them to flourish. The returns of Kagawa and Sahin after failures elsewhere prove that Klopp really does have a knack for exacting the best from his players.
Wenger, of course, has an esteemed track record of doing the same, and one need only look to Cesc Fabregas’ desire to move back to Arsenal this summer as an indicator of the manager’s reverence for cultivating talent.
Klopp is very much a manager in Wenger’s image, and Dortmund are something of an Arsenal of the Bundesliga: a smaller budget than their nearest rivals, yet still able to compete, while offering a brand of football of a greater aesthetic than all others. It is a natural fit.
Much as Wenger did during those barren years, which ended only with May’s FA Cup final triumph, Klopp has had to survive on funds less substantial than those in pursuit of the same goals, but continues to produce a team capable of challenging for top honours.
His transfer habits tend to be fuelled by the need to replace a departed star rather than the desire or ability to make a luxury acquisition, yet he invariably spends the money well when it is at his disposal.
This is not to suggest Klopp is forced to operate on a shoestring budget, but Dortmund are unable to compete with the game’s most prominent spenders both in terms of transfer fees and wages, hence Gotze and Lewandowski pursuing move lucrative contracts in Munich.
Klopp is stuck in a perpetual cycle of plugging gaps left by forced departures, with Marco Reus and Mats Hummels inevitably set to follow those before them sooner rather than later, and so the process continues.
Wenger had been required to follow a similar pattern, but things are now changing with the Gunners able to exercise greater financial power in the market, as demonstrated with the singings of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
There is, though, a sense of reluctance from Wenger to spend big unless he deems it to be entirely necessary. He would never sanction a splurge such as Manchester United’s this summer, and it would seem neither would Klopp.
A more measured and reserved approach may be to their detriment, but both managers would take an element of satisfaction that they need not spend £150 million in order to mould a team exactly as they would like it. Supporters, however, would see things somewhat differently.
Klopp has never been in charge of a transfer kitty the size of the one now available to Wenger, and only time will tell if he would be able to manage it effectively. Wenger himself has been unable to do so, with holes remaining in all departments, so the German would not have great deal to live up to in that respect.
But while these two may be kindred spirits somewhat, there remains an element unpredictability about who will be next in line to the Arsenal throne, given that Wenger often has a little surprise for us.
He will surely play a prominent role in the club’s next appointment, their first in over 20 years, and Wenger may well already have the ideal person in mind. But Sir Alex Ferguson had long identified David Moyes as his replacement, and look how that turned out.
Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers, Pep Guardiola - these are notable names fans would hope to be among those in consideration. But an appointment from within, Steve Bould or Andries Jonker perhaps could be made, while a Wenger-ite such as Dragan Stojković could fulfil the Frenchman’s criteria.
But Klopp fits in more ways than any other. He will be at a crossroads in his career just when Wenger has reached his final destination. Manchester United, Real Madrid or even the German national team may come calling, but there is one job he is destined to take.
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