Arsenal closes-in on new manager as Ralf Rangnick is shortlisted

Red Bull Salzburg's newly appointed German sport director Ralf Rangnick speaks during a press conference in Salzburg on June 25, 2012. Frenchman Gerard Houllier and highly-regarded German coach Ralf Rangnick have joined the management of Red Bull Salzburg, the Austrian double winners announced on June 24, 2012. The club, who are owned by the Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz and his Red Bull brand, have also unveiled a new coach in the shape of German Roger Schmidt. AFP PHOTO / ERNST WUKITS (Photo credit should read ERNST WUKITS/AFP/GettyImages)
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Ralf Rangnick is on Arsenal’s list of candidates to replace Arsene Wenger as manager, Sky Sports News understands.

Rangnick is regarded as one of the most respected coaching talents in Germany and is currently employed as sporting director at Bundesliga club RB Leipzig.

Some of Europe’s top managerial talents, including Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and former Borussia Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel, have hailed Rangnick as a key influence on their tactical and management styles.

Former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is favourite with the bookmakers to replace Wenger, with other leading candidates including former Arsenal captains Patrick Vieira and Mikel Arteta.

But Sky Sports News understands Rangnick, who built the footballing philosophies at Red Bull clubs in Leipzig, Salzburg and New York, is on Arsenal’s shortlist as they look for the man to return them to the top table of European competition.

The 59-year old-year already has a number of advocates at the Emirates including one of Wenger’s current assistants, Jens Lehmann.

Arsenal’s Academy coach, Per Mertesacker was given his debut by Rangnick at Hannover as a 19-year old and the two remain friends.

And most importantly, Arsenal’s head of recruitment Sven Mislintat is known to be an admirer of Rangnick, who has also been employed at VFB Stuttgart, Hoffenheim and Schalke.

Sky Sports News understands that later this week Mislintat, along with chief executive Ivan Gazidis and head of football relations Raul Sanllehi, will begin face-to-face discussions with potential candidates.

Although presently RB Leipzig’s sporting director, Sky Sports News has been told by a source who knows Rangnick well that his role is closer to that of a manager; influencing tactics, holding player meetings and nurturing young talent.

“Ralf is the perfect fit. He’s a huge presence, he’s a club builder, he plays a modern style of football. He has the gravitas to take on a job like Arsenal,” the source said.

Another fan of Rangnick is the FA’s technical director Dan Ashworth who considered him as a possible replacement following the departure of Sam Allardyce as England manager.

A respected tactician, Rangnick enjoys hero status at New York Red Bulls, where his style of play was nicknamed “Ralf-ball”.

Thomas Tuchel is one of the men who says Rangnick has been a big influence in his career
Thomas Tuchel is one of the men who says Rangnick has been a big influence in his career

When asked about his playing style Rangnick said: “It’s aggressive forward defending and pressing. Playing in private possession and directly to the front. Lateral and back passes are rather not so much in demand. The aim is to develop teams, no soloists.”

Rangnick’s arrival would not necessarily be good news for Arsenal’s older generation of players, with the German known for developing young talent.

He was quoted in the German media saying: “It’s gotten so that youthfulness is a sign of quality. Even in international football. Look at Bundesliga or the Champions League final. The younger, the better. As long as I’m here (at Red Bull Leipzig), this will be the way. We are committed for next season no player who is 28 or 30 years old. “