Joachim Low will step down as Germany manager after Euro 2020 in the summer, the German football federation has confirmed – with speculation linking Jurgen Klopp with the job likely to follow.
Low has been in charge of Germany since 2006, when he was promoted from the role of assistant manager.
He went on to lead his country at three World Cups, winning the tournament in 2014 with a squad featuring the likes of Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer and Toni Kroos.
However, they disappointingly were eliminated in the group stage of the following edition of the competition. They finished behind Sweden, Mexico and South Korea in their group.
Low retained his job, though, and will get the chance to lead his nation at one more major tournament.
His contract was due to end in 2022, but he will be leaving the role one year earlier. He will depart after Germany’s Euro 2020 campaign comes to an end.
Low said: “I take this step very consciously, full of pride and enormous gratitude, but at the same time continue to be very motivated when it comes to the upcoming European Championship tournament.
“Proud, because it is something very special and an honour for me to be involved in my country.
“And because I have been able to work with the best footballers in the country for almost 17 years and support them in their development.
“I have great triumphs with them and painful defeats, but above all many wonderful and magical moments – not just winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“I am and will remain grateful to the DFB, which has always provided me and the team with an ideal working environment.”
He will be hoping to go out on a high note in his final few months in charge. But the attention will already turn to who will replace him after such a long stint.
Liverpool boss Klopp will be one of the immediate favourites to take up the role. The Germany job has always seemed like a natural next step for Klopp.
Liverpool’s current situation will only increase those rumours. Klopp is not at risk of being sacked, but there are parallels to his last season with Borussia Dortmund, at the end of which he walked away.
Klopp retains the support of Liverpool owners FSG, as per The Times, and remains under contract until 2024. FSG see Liverpool’s current downturn in form as an anomaly and believe Klopp will lead them out of it.
However, there will now be speculation about him taking the Germany job.
In November, when Low was coming under pressure, Germany legend Lothar Matthaus named Klopp as a natural successor.
He told Sky Sports at the time: “When you talk about possible candidates, there is only one person that everyone would want in the future, and that is Jurgen Klopp.
“He is extremely successful, personable and equally popular with fans and the media. He’s far from finished in Liverpool and he’ll have time for the national team in a few years.”
And earlier this week, former Liverpool and Germany midfielder Dietmar Hamann added: “If Joachim Low decides to step down after the Euros, I don’t think it’s a secret that the German Federation would like to have Jurgen Klopp, if he would probably be their first choice.
“What happens at Liverpool, I do not know. You can’t afford to lose six home games in a row.
“If they were to miss out on the Champions League, I’m sure questions would be asked within the club. We need to wait and see if the manager has the right answers.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead and I don’t know what’s happening. But I wouldn’t be too surprised if there was a change made at Liverpool.”
Klopp himself has said in the past: “Should I be asked at some point when I would be available, then I would think about it.”
It remains to be seen if Klopp would genuinely consider leaving Liverpool ahead of schedule now the role is available.
Germany taking time to appoint successor
Other candidates for the role include Bayern Munich’s Hansi Flick, who was Low’s assistant when Germany won the World Cup. Alternatively, Ralf Rangnick could be available as he looks for his next project.
The DFB have vowed to patient in their approach to find a successor. President Fritz Keller said: “I have great respect for Joachim Löw’s decision.
“The DFB knows what it has in Jogi, he is one of the greatest coaches in world football.
“Jogi Löw has had German football like no other for years. Not only because of his sporting achievements, but also because of his empathy and humanity.
“The fact that he informed us about his decision at an early stage is very decent.
“He gives us the DFB the necessary time, calmly and a sense of proportion to name his successor.”