Two years after taking over, Ralph Hasenhüttl has left Bundesliga club RB Leipzig, after the club agreed to terminate his contract early. The Austrian took Leipzig to the Champions League but they've struggled this term.
Leipzig announced on Wednesday afternoon that they would terminate Hasenhüttl's deal a year early after he sought a longer-term contract that the club weren't prepared to offer. Leipzig recently missed out on a second year of Champions League football following a 6th-placed finish.
The Austrian boss said he was uncomfortable entering the final year of his contract without a long-term deal in place.
"It would be undesirable from both perspectives to enter the final year of the contract without knowing the long-term future," Hasenhüttl was quoted as saying on Leipzig's website.
"From my point of view, it's vital to have a sustainable contract solution in order to achieve the long term goals of RB Leipzig.
"For this reason, I've asked the club's management to end our relationship prematurely. I thank the employees, players and fans and will never forget my time in Leipzig."
Despite accepting the termination request, sporting director Ralf Rangnick said he was disappointed to see Hasenhüttl go but believed the remaining year on Hasenhüttl's deal was enough.
"I would have really liked to continue into the next season with Ralph Hasenhüttl as head coach. From the bottom of my heart, I wish him all the best for the future, both professionally and privately."
Club CEO Oliver Mintzlaff echoed those thoughts: "We are convinced that an extension at this current point in time would not have been the right step for our club."
After impressing in guiding Ingolstadt out of 2.Bundesliga trouble and in to the top flight, Hasenhüttl moved to Leipzig for their debut Bundesliga campaign in 2016-17.
His young, exciting side - featuring the likes of Naby Keita and Timo Werner - were an immediate success, topping the Bundesliga until they were defeated by Bayern Munich in December, before eventually finishing 2nd.
The Red Bulls narrowly dropped out of the Champions League at the group stage this season but did enough to enter the Europa League, where they fell to French side Marseille in the quarterfinals.
But their European adventures took their toll and Leipzig, whose ownership model has provoked fury among some German football fans, lost 11 league games, eventually finishing 14 points behind their total from the previous campaign.
Though he has long been linked with English club Arsenal, the Premier League outfit now look to be exploring other options for the position recently vacated by Arsene Wenger.
Early reports suggest Leipzig may look to Marco Rose, currently coach of sister club Red Bull Salzburg, or ask sporting director Ralf Rangnick to take the coaching reins for a year while they wait for Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann to become available.
Matchday 8: Borussia Dortmund 2-3 RB Leipzig
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave BVB an early lead on Matchday 8, but goals from Marcel Sabitzer and Yussuf Poulsen (pictured) put RB ahead at the break. It went from bad to worse for BVB after halftime when defender Sokratis was sent off and Jean-Kevin Augustin extended the visitors' lead. Although RB were also reduced to 10 men, Aubameyang's penalty wasn't enough to save Dortmund.
Matchday 11: Wolfsburg 3-3 Hertha Berlin
Vedad Ibisevic took just 20.6 seconds to get this one going with Hertha's opener and the pace barely let up in a frenetic Sunday evening encounter. We also saw two disallowed goals, a Mario Gomez penalty that rattled the bar, a goal that went in off both posts and a dramatic late equalizer from Hertha's Davie Selke (pictured) which meant the teams shared the points.
Matchday 27: Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-3 Hoffenheim
The Foals have often struggled to find the net this season, but there was no shortage of goals when Hoffenheim visited Borussia Park in March. Julian Nagelsmann's team took the lead three times through Benjamin Hübner (above), Andre Kramaric (penalty) and Florian Grillitsch, but Gladbach responded with Josip Drmic, Lars Stindl and finally, in the 90th minute, Matthias Ginter.
Matchday 26: Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Frankfurt got off to a terrible start in this battle for the Champions League places, with Marco Russ turning the ball into his own goal 11 minutes in. Luka Jovic finally equalized in the 75th minute, but Michy Batshuayi quickly restored BVB's lead. Eintracht thought they had a draw when Danny Blum pulled them level in injury time. That's when Batshuayi scored another to break Hessian hearts.
Matchday 17: Hannover 4-4 Bayer Leverkusen
What a seesaw battle! Julian Brandt's 11th minute volley was canceled out by Ihlas Bebou's header seconds later. Niclas Füllkrug scored from the spot, but Admir Mehmedi struck to pull Leverkusen level. Felix Klaus gave Hannover the lead on halftime but Leon Bailey evened the score early in the second half. His second in the 66th gave Bayer the lead, Julian Korb made it a 4-4 final in the 82nd.
Matchday 15: Cologne 3-4 Freiburg
At the 15th attempt, Cologne fans must have felt a win was finally theirs. They were 3-0 up in 30 minutes, the second coming in comedic fashion as Sehrou Guirassy (19) and the referee initially struggled locate the penalty spot. Freiburg pulled it back to 3-2 but with 90 minutes gone, Cologne looked safe. But the hapless hosts gave away two stoppage time penalties and Nils Petersen scored both.
Matchday 13: Borussia Dortmund 4-4 Schalke
This truly was one of the most entertaining matches of the season — unless you are a BVB fan. Dortmund came out flying in the first half, taking a 4-0 lead in the first 25 minutes. Schalke looked shell-shocked, but they were a changed team after the break, fighting back with three goals to get close the gap to one. Naldo headed home four minutes into injury time to earn the draw in Dortmund.
Matchday 29: Hamburg 3-2 Schalke
Aaron Hunt's 84th minute thunderbolt gave Hamburg a stunning 3-2 win over second-placed Schalke to lift them off the bottom of the table. Naldo had struck first for Schalke in the seventh minute, but Filip Kostic equalized in the 17th. Lewis Holtby (pictured) gave HSV the lead in the 52nd, but this was canceled out by Guido Burgstaller nine minutes later. Then came Aaron Hunt...
Matchday 21: Cologne 2-3 Borussia Dortmund
BVB fans will remember this match for how Michy Batshuayi announced his arrival in the Bundesliga. The Belgian became the first Bundesliga debutante to score multiple goals since... Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Severely relegation-threatened Cologne gave Dortmund a battle, and looked like possibly snatching a point at home. Andre Schürrle ended that illusion six minutes from time.