Elite football clubs often opt for seasoned head coaches or managers when filling vacancies, but there’s a rising cohort of young, talented coaches making their mark. While top clubs usually gravitate towards experience, some promising young tacticians are defying the age-old norm.
Xabi Alonso, 41, Bayer Leverkusen Xabi Alonso, the elegant former Spanish defensive midfielder, is gaining recognition as a future managerial great. Just one year into his coaching career at Bayer Leverkusen, he’s on track to revive his former clubs, Liverpool and Real Madrid. Leverkusen’s dramatic turnaround from second-bottom in the Bundesliga to sixth place under his leadership is a testament to his tactical prowess and strong leadership skills.
Arne Slot, 45, Feyenoord Arne Slot, a proponent of high-pressing football, has taken inspiration from the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp. After achieving impressive results with AZ and then leading Feyenoord to the Eredivisie title, Slot is becoming known for his engaging style, clear communication, and innovative tactics.
Sebastian Hoeness, 41, Stuttgart Despite his famous surname, Sebastian Hoeness is making a name for himself with Stuttgart. He’s known for employing various tactical approaches and led Stuttgart to safety last season in a remarkable turnaround. Currently sitting in second place in the Bundesliga, his team is exceeding expectations, thanks to his versatility and sound decision-making.
Francesco Farioli, 34, Nice Francesco Farioli took an unconventional path to become the head coach of OGC Nice, making his way from assistant and goalkeeping coach to head coach. Despite facing early challenges in the French league, Farioli has guided Nice to impressive results, including victories against PSG and Monaco, thanks to his attacking style and focus on early ball recoveries.
Will Still, 31, Reims Will Still’s appointment as the head coach of Reims at the age of 30 garnered global attention. Despite his youth and lack of coaching qualifications, Still led Reims on a spectacular 17-game unbeaten run. His pragmatic approach and tactical discipline have contributed to Reims’ solid performance in Ligue 1.
Thiago Motta, 41, Bologna Former midfielder Thiago Motta, known for his straightforwardness and work ethic, is building a promising coaching career. His stints at Spezia and Bologna have yielded impressive results, including a ninth-place finish for Bologna, their highest in over a decade. Motta’s tactical approach is characterized by an aggressive, well-organized, and hard-to-break-down style of play.
Jagoba Arrasate, 45, Osasuna Jagoba Arrasate, known for his understated approach, has quietly made a name for himself as the head coach of Osasuna. His focus on high pressing, aggressive tactics, and direct play has resulted in notable achievements, including leading Osasuna to a Copa del Rey final and their best LaLiga finish in over a decade.
These young coaches are challenging the status quo and proving that age is just a number when it comes to making an impact in European football. As they continue to develop their managerial skills and achieve success, they’re poised to become the next generation of coaching stars.