Almost a year after leaving Borussia Dortmund, Thomas Tuchel has started work at Paris Saint-Germain. The German coach wants to get the best out of his "artist" Neymar and must overcome PSG's Champions League hoodoo.
Thomas Tuchel has a tough gig on his hands. Four trophies out of five in 2017-18 was not enough for Unai Emery to cling on to his job, so the former Dortmund boss knows that the one missing trinket — the Champions League — will likely define the reign of PSG's fourth manager in the last five years.
"It's way too early to speak about next May," Tuchel said in an interview with The Associated Press after his unveiling on Sunday. "We are very aware that we're here to win games. But before that, we have to do our work and there are things to do. We have to build a structure. We have to evolve the team spirit, a certain atmosphere."
New boss out to build relationships
The 44-year-old left Dortmund with a German Cup but his relationship with the board eventually forced his departure. Tuchel was widely believed to be an exacting character, who some at BVB felt was too demanding.
But the man who made his name at Mainz rejects that notion and is keen to get to know his new players.
"If you want to evolve things you have to be patient and you have to believe in the players who are here. They are amazing players, among the most talented.
"This is my first target, to get known by every player, to speak to everybody and have a clear view of what is possible with this team."
The possibilities for PSG may rest heavily on the shoulders of Neymar. Tuchel met the Brazilian last week and called him "an artist, one of the best players in the world, a key player to help us win matches."
The €222 million ($261 million) forward was named Ligue Un Player of the Year but also drew criticism for a lavish 26th birthday party he held in Paris shortly before the club's Champions League exit to Real Madrid in the last 16. PSG have failed to get past the quarterfinals of the competion since Qatari investors QSI took over in 2011.
Bundesliga players on the radar
While Tuchel said he's happy with his current "exceptional" crop of players, it seems certain that he'll dip in to the owners' deep pockets before the 2018-19 campaign begins.
There is speculation that a few familiar faces will be called upon to join Tuchel's Parisian evolution. Julian Weigl, a central midfield linchpin for Tuchel at Dortmund, and left backs Philipp Max of Augsburg and Bayer Leverkusen's Wendell are among a host of Bundesliga names linked. Legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon,40, is also expected to sign in the coming days after leaving Juventus following a 17-year spell.
Tuchel has a couple of fellow Germans already on the books, in Julian Draxler and Kevin Trapp. The latter's position may come under threat from Buffon's arrival while Draxler went public with his frustrations over a lack of playing time under Emery.
Both players are in Germany's provisional World Cup squad so may not link up with their new boss for another six weeks or so. But when they do arrive back in the French capital, Tuchel is clear that dedication will be the key.
"I'm not the guy who is in charge of everything and runs behind the boys," he said. "I want to convince the biggest players [because] normally the biggest players are the hardest workers. When you have that you can start flying."
At a club with such lofty expectations, Tuchel may well need to get off to a flyer himself.