RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann has explained that he rejected the opportunity to go to Real Madrid in 2018, believing it was not the correct step in his career at that time.
Nagelsmann made history in 2016 when he took charge of Hoffenheim at the age of 28, becoming the youngest top-flight coach in Bundesliga history in the process.
In 2019, he moved to the East German side and has proven successful, with Leipzig spending much of the season challenging Bayern Munich for the title and progressing to the latter stages of the Champions League.
His successes caught the eye of Real Madrid two years ago but nothing materialised.
“We had phone calls, but in the end the one who decided was me,” he told Marca. “I believed it was not the right step to go to Real Madrid.
“I was one of the candidates and the list was not very long. For me, that was important. I had a good chat with Jose Angel Sanchez and we decided that it was not the right step at that time. We agreed that we could talk again in the future if Real Madrid needed a coach – and I was available.”
Meanwhile, Nagelsmann’s target is leading Leipzig to European glory, with Atletico Madrid standing in their way as the Champions League reaches its quarter-final phase in Lisbon, where the remainder of the games will be played due to the coronavirus crisis.
“My first thought was: ‘Oh, they’re a strong team defensively,’” he admitted after seeing the draw. “We will have to have a very solid block and be efficient in the final third to create danger. We’ll need to be creative and have control.
“Atletico are a heavyweight of European football, especially in recent years. Diego Simeone has done a great job with a lot of victories.”
Playing the knockout rounds in a sudden death fashion as opposed to the usual two-legged affairs will benefit Leipzig, the coach has argued.
“I would like the normal format because we all miss the fans, that’s obvious,” he said. “But I think it’s a bit easier for us to play in a single game than in a round trip because they have more experience when it comes to managing the second leg.”
Leipzig face Atleti on Thursday, with the winners tackling either PSG or Atalanta in the semi-finals.