Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel returned to his past as he went to former club Mainz for Sunday’s 1-1 draw–further losing ground on Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig, who both won again–but it was his future that dominated the post-match analysis. The highly rated German is halfway through his three-way contract, which expires after next season. He was asked about a possible extension but said he wanted to wait until the end of the season to think about it.
Why was he asked now? The German press reported last week that Tuchel did not know about the signing of Swedish rising star Alexander Isak, and his relationship with CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke and sporting director Michael Zorc is cold. It has been alleged that he stopped talking to chief scout Sven Mislintat after the failed transfer of Oliver Torres last summer. Tuchel played down any issues, saying that signing young players like Emre Mor, Ousmane Dembele and Isak was more down to Zorc, but a short-term signing would have more of the coach’s input.
There are two things going on here: Dortmund continues to pick up the best young talents around–even seeing off Real Madrid for Isak–but the best young coach around is far off from a title challenge, which was the expectation entering the season.
Tuchel could rightly argue that losing three big players in the summer, Mats Hummels, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan, has made his job that much harder. But if the relationship at the top level continues to cool, then top clubs across Europe will be keeping a close on developments.