It all started on warm summer days eight years ago, in July 2012. The first game that Ralf Rangnick witnessed at RB Leipzig was a test kick in Wittenberg – against Grün-Weiß Piesteritz. And when the new sports director got to know the second team that was entrusted to him, Red Bull Salzburg retired from the Dudelange qualification for the Champions League against Luxembourgish soccer dwarves. Rangnick then went to work. He turned everything inside out, initiated a new style of football, brought in promising young players, such as Sadio Mane and Kevin Kampl at the beginning. Salzburg has been the series master in Austria without interruption since 2014 and is now a center for talent recognized throughout Europe. And Leipzig? A quarter-finalist became a quarter-finalist in the Champions League in eight Rangnick years.
On a very warm summer day, July 31, 2020, this era, which was a very special success story, came to an end. Rangnick, 62, drove to Salzburg on Friday, to the Red Bull headquarters in Fuschl am See. There he terminated his contract with the same gentlemen from the group who had already committed to him in 2012. It was important to him that there was a fair, amicable separation.
After the interview, Red Bull officially announced that “Ralf Rangnick’s wish” to end the collaboration immediately. Dietrich Mateschitz, the head of the energy drink manufacturer, said goodbye to his former royal transfer: “I thank Ralf for his extraordinary work.” Through him, RB is “today a worldwide model for successful management in football” – and he also thanks Rangnick, according to Mateschitz, “for his friendship and solidarity”. It should be a farewell without discord, as Rangnick himself can be quoted: “It was a great honor for me and it makes me proud to have contributed to the fact that Red Bull Soccer is today a highly successful organization that is all about the globe is very well positioned. “
Rangnick can be of three types
Rangnick would have been employed as “Head of Sport and Soccer Development” for one year, in that role as global director of the football empire RB, to which he had switched in 2019 when he left everyday business in Leipzig. He recently described his years as a leading bull as “life’s work”. Now he sees this work as completed. He leaves without resentment. He believes that there is simply nothing left for him to do at this point.
His discussions with AC Milan since autumn showed that he was ready for something new, which until the end was designed for a double role as coach and head of sports. An unexpected streak of success from Milan, with coach Stefano Pioli and goals from the vigorous storm pensioner Zlatan Ibrahimovic, broke the plan. Rangnick would obviously not only consider a dual function in the future. He is of the opinion that he is best used as a trainer and chief strategist, also responsible for transfers and game philosophy. Nevertheless, after decades in football, in which he has experienced everything – from youth and district league coaches to the general manager of top clubs – he says that he can be three things today: coach. Sports director. Or both. Depending on the appeal and the special needs of a new club, all three variants would be conceivable.