After an hour-long podcast detailing managers linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, it didn’t take long before a new name surfaced. Former Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel is the latest person to enter the managerial carousel as PSG look to replace Unai Emery who is expected to be dismissed at the end of the season.
Before his unemployment, Tuchel spent two seasons at Dortmund, finishing second and third respectively, while winning a DFB-Pokal along the way. During his tenure, however, he was unable to unseat FC Bayern Munich from their Bundesliga throne. Nonetheless, Tuchel did lead Dortmund to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League where they were defeated by AS Monaco. It was an impressive feat considering the exodus of players in his first season with the club but Tuchel’s time in Dortmund was cut short after a clash with the club’s hierarchy.
If Paris is Tuchel’s next stop, he will bring a new approach to the way the current squad plays. First and foremost, the German’s preferred formation is 4-1-4-1, similar to what Pep Guardiola deploys at Manchester City, which is why Tuchel is sometimes referred to as “Guardiola-lite” from those looking to explain his style. It’s a sexy brand of football that some PSG supporters want to see.
Tuchel’s system involves a lot of passing and movement from players. Before his arrival, Dortmund averaged 387.32 successful passes per 90 minutes in 2014-15. Then, once Tuchel took over, the club saw a drastic spike in ball movement as their successful passes per 90 went to 528.38 in 2015-16. Dortmund’s pass completion would improve under Tuchel as well, going from 77 percent to 85 percent in his first season. PSG already plays this kind of football so if Tuchel were to take over he’d have to tinker rather than overhaul the entire thing.
In Tuchel’s system, the defensive midfielder plays a vital role as they’re the ones who start the offensive attack, which means if the former Dortmund manager were to come to Paris, PSG would need to finally address this weakness in their squad. For example, Tuchel might entrust Julian Weigle in the 6 position where he’s become one of Dortmund’s most important players.
Furthermore, while at Dortmund, Tuchel didn’t shy away from trusting young players and giving them prominent roles–Weigl was a benefactor of this policy. With a young talent knocking on the doorstep at PSG–Yacine Adli for example–it’s a plus to have a manager that’s keen on giving them a chance.
Nonetheless, Tuchel doesn’t have the Champions League credibility that the club is looking for with only one appearance. Also, his trophy cabinet only has one piece of silverware in it. As a result, the jury will remain out on whether he can command the respect of the PSG locker room.
Tuchel is an intriguing name. It’s an ambitious risk by club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique and a real target considering he’s currently a free agent. With Arsenal FC pondering the future of Arsène Wenger and considering Tuchel as their manager, PSG executives will need to act fast if they feel he is the man to lead them to Champions League glory.