Tottenham Hotspur will place Julian Nagelsmann at the top of a list of targets to replace head coach Jose Mourinho if the Portuguese cannot arrest the club’s dismal run of results and save his job.
Mourinho faces a crucial 12 days which could help to determine whether or not he is in charge of Spurs next season, or whether the club make a move to try to appoint Nagelsmann.
Nagelsmann is not thought to be prepared to leave RB Leipzig in mid-season, which may buy Mourinho time to turn things around, but the forthcoming fixtures against Wolfsberger in the Europa League, Burnley, Fulham and Crystal Palace could define his future if they go badly.
Mourinho is understood to retain the support of chairman Daniel Levy and the next four games over a 12-day period are seen as a chance to reinvigorate Tottenham’s season, which is in danger of imploding following a run of five defeats in six Premier League games.
Leading 4-1 from last week’s first leg, Spurs are on course to progress to the last 16 of the Europa League against Wolfsberger, who they entertain on Wednesday night, and, as Mourinho pointed out himself, the competition offers the club a route into the Champions League.
Mourinho insisted that he will not give up on a top-four place in the Premier League and, trailing West Ham United by nine points, Tottenham need to quickly make up ground on their rivals.
The next three league games, after which Tottenham travel to bitter rivals Arsenal, offer the perfect opportunity to turnaround the club’s league form and Mourinho will be looking for a maximum nine-point haul.
A defeat in any of the games to Burnley, Fulham and Palace would be a huge blow to Spurs and Mourinho’s hopes of finishing high enough to be sure of retaining his job for next season.
Mourinho will also be under pressure to give on-loan Gareth Bale a chance in those games after the Welshman also helped Tottenham fight back from two goals down against West Ham.
Bale produced his best 45-minute performance since his return to Spurs on Sunday and Mourinho will now be expected to offer him an opportunity to build on that.
Tottenham have a Carabao Cup final to look forward to against Manchester City, but winning that and delivering a first trophy for the club since 2008 may not guarantee Mourinho holds on to his job next season if his team crash out of the Europa League and finish in mid-table in the Premier League.
Nagelsmann, widely regarded as the most exciting young coach in world football, would be Tottenham’s first choice to replace Mourinho if Levy is forced into making a change.
And it is thought the German might be open to the prospect of moving to the Premier League at the end of what is his second season in charge at Leipzig.
It was Nagelsmann’s Leipzig team who last season beat Mourinho’s Tottenham 4-0 on aggregate to knock them out of the Champions League - a result that made the then 32-year-old the youngest ever coach to win a Champions League knock-out tie.
Leipzig are trailing 2-0 to Liverpool in this season’s last-16, but Nagelsmann is enjoying another impressive season with his team second in the Bundesliga, just two points behind Bayern Munich.
Other than poor results, Mourinho has faced criticism over Tottenham’s performances this season and Nagelsmann’s philosophy appears more in tune with the desire of the club’s fans.
Speaking to Telegraph Sport last week, Nagelsmann said: “Winning is what matters and winning is entertaining. I never want to change my offensive and attacking football because I love it and I love it when the fans have an emotional time in the stadium. So I will not change this. But if there is a time when I cannot win like this, then I will have to change.”
Brendan Rodgers has been admired by Tottenham for some time and has already turned the job down once before, but he would be incredibly difficult and expensive to coax away from Leicester City.
Leicester are on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League and Rodgers is one of the highest-paid managers in the Premier League.