Borussia Dortmund confirm exit of manager Thomas Tuchel after feud
Thomas Tuchel will leave Borussia Dortmund after two years in charge amid a clash with the club's hierarchy, with CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke saying he and sporting director Michael Zorc had "worn ourselves out during this time in our workings with the coaching team."
The move comes three days after Tuchel led BVB to their first trophy in five years when they beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 in the DFB Pokal final, after which Tuchel said he wished to stay on despite ongoing battles with Watzke.
During Tuchel's two years in charge, Dortmund finished second and third in the Bundesliga, but the club issued a statement to say that Tuchel, 43, was leaving immediately, one year before his contract was due to expire in 2018.
In an open letter to fans on Dortmund's website, Watzke said he could understand that the decision is criticised by some -- Tuchel's points-average in the Bundesliga was better than any other Dortmund coach, and his side remained unbeaten at home for the duration of his tenure.
"It's about basic values such as trust, respect, teamwork and communication skills, about authority and identity. It's about reliability and loyalty," Watzke said. "Unfortunately we couldn't see a basis for continued work together built on trust with a successful outlook in the current personnel constellation."
Former Borussia Monchengladbach and Hertha Berlin coach Lucien Favre has been favoured to take over Dortmund.
Tuchel joined Dortmund ahead of the 2015-16 season, and in his first year guided them to the highest points tally ever achieved by the runners-up in the Bundesliga.
He initially earned praise for getting Dortmund out of the slump of Jurgen Klopp's final season and for re-introducing an attractive style of attacking play. This season, after a host of off-season changes, Tuchel led Dortmund to third place in the Bundesliga behind promoted Leipzig, while finally winning the German cup.
But on-field success was overshadowed by a rift between Tuchel and the Dortmund leadership dating back to the 2015-16 season and the summer transfer window that followed.
A row between Tuchel and Watzke, as well as parts of the squad and the club's fans, dominated headlines this month, and talks between the two lasted only 21 minutes, the German paper Bild reported. According to the paper, the talks took place at the Hotel L'Arrivee in Dortmund's south, close to where the BVB team bus was attacked prior to a Champions League match on April 11.
Tuchel's and Dortmund's difficulties began long before, however, starting in January 2016 when he had a spat with chief scout Sven Mislintat, a friend of Zorc's, over the signing of Spanish midfielder Oliver Torres from Atletico Madrid.
After the 2016 German Cup final loss to Bayern on penalties, Tuchel criticised the Bayern-bound Mats Hummels, and was unhappy with Watzke when other key players like Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan also departed. Tuchel said the squad break-up was "risky." Watzke said it was "ambitious."
Last January, Tuchel said he wasn't informed of Swedish forward Alexander Isak's signing, and he questioned his side's mentality and whether their targets for the season were overambitious the following month after a league loss to last-place Darmstadt.
The differences really spilled into the open after the bomb attack on the team bus in April, when Tuchel and Watzke clashed over the rescheduling of the affected Champions League game.
Tuchel left fully fit midfielder Nuri Sahin out of the squad for the DFB Pokal final on Saturday, despite Julian Weigl's absence through injury. Sahin's omission upset some of his teammates, with captain Marcel Schmelzer saying he was "shocked."
Tuchel was the first to announce the news on Twitter, using an account set up just over an hour before his departure.
"I am thankful for two nice, eventful and exciting years. It's a shame it won't go on," he wrote. "Thanks to all the fans, the squad, the staff and to everyone who supported us. I wish BVB all the best."
In a statement before Watzke's letter, Dortmund said: "Eight-time German champions Borussia Dortmund and coach Thomas Tuchel are parting company with immediate effect. This is the result of a conversation between CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, sporting director Michael Zorc, Thomas Tuchel and his advisor Olaf Meinking, which took place on Tuesday.
"We would like to thank Thomas Tuchel and his coaching staff for the sporting success they have brought to BVB with the win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB Pokal final in Berlin. We wish Thomas Tuchel nothing but the best for his future professional endeavours."
Dortmund's statement also said Tuchel's departure was "the result of a longer process" and had been "supported by all the club committees." It added: "The well-being of the club, which is much more than just sporting success, will always be more important [than individual people]."
Local outlet Der Westen said Tuchel is set to receive €2 million in compensation, with his contract due to run until 2019.
Although Meinking told ESPN FC last week that there was nothing to rumours linking his client with Bayer Leverkusen, they are reported to be the front-runners for his signature.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.