German giants Bayern Munich on Friday named Eintracht Frankfurt coach Niko Kovac as their new manager, succeeding Jupp Heynckes at the end of the season.
The 46-year-old Croatian will start a three-year contract from July 1, the club announced just minutes before Friday’s Champions League semi-finals draw which left the Bundesliga champions pitted against holders Real Madrid.
A close friend of Salihamidzic, Kovac will also bring his 44-year-old brother Robert Kovac from Frankfurt as assistant coach.
Born in Berlin to Croatian parents, both brothers played for the Croatian national team as well as Bayern.
The elder Kovac was also coach of the Croatian team with his brother as assistant manager.
Bayern did not reveal the cost of poaching Kovac, but both Bild and Sport Bild claimed that his departure before the end of his Frankfurt contract in 2019 would cost Bayern 2.2 million euros ($2.7 million).
Both Frankfurt and Bayern last week denied that Kovac was on his way to Munich.
Kovac himself also said that “there is no reason to doubt that I will be the coach of Frankfurt next season”.
The manager had brought Frankfurt back from the brink of relegation during the 2015-2016 season. This year, they are fighting for Champions League qualification, sitting fifth in the Bundesliga table.
Bayern have been desperately hunting a replacement for Heynckes, who came out of retirement temporarily when Carlo Ancelotti was sacked in October after a series of poor results.
Most recently, Germany’s World Cup-winning head coach Joachim Loew ruled himself out, insisting he intended to honour his contract with the national team which runs until 2020.
Former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel had already turned down Bayern and is expected to be the next coach of Paris Saint-Germain.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Mauricio Pochettino, Lucien Favre, currently at Nice, and RB Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl were also at times named as possible Bayern coaches.
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