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Five of the best young managers in world football right now

World football is home to some brilliant young coaches who are looking to stamp their mark on the game, with innovative ideas that are fast becoming tactical trends.

The likes of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti might remain the elite among their coaching contemporaries, but who are the new wave of managers making an impact in world football’s biggest leagues?

We’ve looked at five of the best young managers in world football right now, each under the age of 45.

Xabi Alonso

Xabi Alonso’s revolution at Bayer Leverkusen has made the Spaniard perhaps the most coveted coach in the game. The 42-year-old has transformed the Bundesliga side in his first senior managerial role, with the club one win from history.

Leverkusen will be crowned champions for the first time with a win against Werder Bremen at the BayArena this weekend, the club’s nearly men – and unwanted ‘Neverkusen’ tag – on the verge of being removed.

Die Schwarzroten are not just set to snatch the title from Bayern Munich’s 11-year grip but have waltzed towards their maiden coronation. Victory this weekend will see Leverkusen win the title with five games to spare and the Germans have not lost a single game in any competition – a sequence of 42 games – this season.

Alonso’s side could become the first-ever German team to complete a top-flight season without defeat in the Bundesliga era and are targeting a historic treble. Second-tier FC Kaiserslautern await in the DFB-Pokal final, while Leverkusen lead West Ham 2-0 ahead of their Europa League quarter-final return next week.

Alonso, in his first full season in charge, is closing in on a monumental achievement. Fortunately for Leverkusen, he has snubbed interest from Liverpool and Bayern to continue his work with the club next season.

Midfield Magicians: Xabi Alonso, the grand master of 4D chess

Mikel Arteta

Arsenal’s gamble on Mikel Arteta has been rewarded with the club’s former captain having transformed the north Londoners into Premier League title contenders.

Arteta cut his teeth on the coaching staff at Manchester City and appears to have picked up some nuggets of gold from old mentor Pep Guardiola. Now, the Spaniard has emerged as arguably the biggest rival to his compatriot’s dominance of the division, with Arsenal competing for the title for the second successive season.

After an inauspicious start in the Premier League, Arsenal have improved in each season under Arteta’s management. This season, the Gunners are the league’s leading scorers (75), boast the division’s best defensive record, and have comfortably the best xG against (25.27) in the Premier League.

There’s also been progress in the Champions League on the club’s return to the competition this season, with a first quarter-final appearance in over a decade. After a post-Arsene Wenger era lull, Arsenal are on the up again.

Thiago Motta

Bologna have been one of the stories of the season across Europe’s top five leagues with the unfancied Italians closing in on Champions League football.

Thiago Motta has been the mastermind behind Bologna’s incredible campaign, in a tenure that has echoes of Alonso’s time with Leverkusen. After inheriting a team struggling near the bottom last season, Motta led Bologna up the table and has continued that upward trajectory this season.

I Rossoblรน are in the Champions League places at present and aiming to crack Serie A’s top four for the first time since 1967. Motta’s remarkable transformation has seen Bologna shift from 3-5-2 to a controlling and flexible 4-2-3-1 formation, with only Napoli (61.4%) boasting a higher average possession than Bologna (58.5%) in Serie A this season. Comfortable holding possession in their half, the attractive brand of football has earned the 41-year-old plenty of plaudits.

As has an ability to bring out the best in former high-potential prospects who had stagnated. Joshua Zirkzee is now delivering in a top-five league after struggling for status at Bayern Munich, while Riccardo Calafiori has been a huge hit since he arrival from Basel and move from full-back into central defence.

Ruben Amorim

Ruben Amorim is understood to feature highly on the shortlists of Barcelona and Liverpool this summer as two of European football’s biggest clubs consider coaching candidates.

The 39-year-old rewarded Sporting’s show of faith in his services, when the Lisbon outfit made Amorim the third-most expensive manager ever, at the time, to bring him from Braga after just months in charge of their divisional rivals.

Amorim led Sporting to a drought-breaking Primeira Liga title in 2020/21 as part of a Portuguese league and cup double, while he is closing in on a second success this season. Sporting are top of the table, four points ahead of Benfica with a game in hand.

Amorim has often preferred a fluid 3-4-2-1 formation, in which the wing-backs provide width and two attacking midfielders move centrally in support of a lone forward. High-intensity is a non-negotiable, as his Sporting side looks to win the ball back quickly in advanced areas of the pitch.

The Sporting stars Ruben Amorim could take to Liverpool

Roberto De Zerbi

Roberto De Zerbi does not turn 45 until the summer but the Italian has already packed plenty into a managerial career that stretches a decade.

After earning admirers for an uber-attacking, and occasionally gung-ho, style at Shakhtar Donetsk and Sassuolo, De Zerbi was appointed Brighton boss in 2022 and built on the success of the Graham Potter era.

His debut campaign saw Brighton finish in the Premier League’s top six and secure European qualification for the first time, achieved with one of the most watchable styles in the division. The Seagulls control possession, move the ball bravely out from the back, and create chances at a rate equivalent to English football’s biggest sides.

Brighton are in the Premier League’s top five this season for average possession (2nd), pass accuracy (89.1%), shots (5th) and shots per game (14.9).

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