New Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick is famed for his unearthing of talents such as Erling Haaland and Sadio Mane before developing them into stars, but his expertise in English football is equally impressive
Rangnick is seen as a pioneer of German coaching and has been described as ‘the godfather of gegenpressing’ and the innovator of a proactive style of play that has influenced coaches such as Jurgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann.
The 63-year-old has never coached outside of German football, even though his most recent role was in an off-field position at Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow.
In the last decade, Rangnick has managed just two seasons and had instead focused on building RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg, with his Director of Football role seeing him tasked with identifying players for recruitment.
The German’s track record on that front saw him unearth multiple stars such as Erling Haaland and Sadio Mane but has also illustrated his supreme knowledge of British football.
Here are the players who Rangnick identified as signings from the English game, many of whom were relatively unknown at the time.
Defender Joe Gomez has blossomed into a regular squad player for Liverpool and England, despite injuries in recent years.
Prior to joining the Reds in 2015, he had enjoyed a breakthrough season at Charlton in the second tier when he was aged just 17 – and was on Rangnick’s scouting list at RB Leipzig.
The England Under-19 international had always appeared likely to have a bright future but that he was on Rangnick’s radar was illustrative of his depth of knowledge of English football.
Another lower league player who caught Rangnick’s eye to since go on to star in the Premier League and win England caps.
One of the Premier League’s most gifted strikers, his career has been derailed somewhat by injury issues but his talent and potential were never in doubt.
As with Gomez, Ademola Lookman was a breakthrough England youth international who impressed at Charlton Athletic – putting him on Rangnick’s watch list.
Lookman also moved to Merseyside but to the blue half of the city, although he only made 48 appearances for Everton.
After a successful loan spell at RB Leizpig where he scored five goals in 11 appearances, he joined the club permanently in 2019 but has subsequently returned to the Premier League with loan stints at Fulham and Leicester City.
A breakout star in the Championship with Nottingham Forest, RB Leipzig paid £13million to sign Scottish winger Burke in the summer of 2016.
It was a transfer record for a Scottish player and despite Burke’s teenage years, he made an instant Bundesliga impact – providing an assist to Naby Keita on his debut before scoring his first goal in a league match 15 days later.
His time in Germany petered out – only 23 games and no more goals followed – as Leipzig’s coaches questioned his tactical awareness, despite his physical and technical attributes.
Another teenage recruited by Rangnick, Ampadu had featured sparingly for Chelsea prior to his switch to Leipzig in 2019.
He played a small role in their run to the last four of the Champions League that campaign, but only enjoyed a run of first-team football thereafter at Sheffield United and now, at Venezia.
With 29 Wales caps and a regular in Serie A, he is another youth talent that Rangnick saw the potential in from an early age.
Now a star with Arsenal, Smith-Rowe’s talents were first recognised by RB Leipzig – who signed him on loan before he had made his Premier League debut for the Gunners.
Smith-Rowe’s time in Germany was disrupted by a groin injury which limited him to just 28 minutes of action spread across three substitute appearances.
Despite his lack of first-team action, that Rangnick’s team identified his talent at such an early stage shows his eye for a player.