Coach Jupp Heynckes will leave Bayer Leverkusen at the end of the season and will be replaced by Freiburg boss Robin Dutt, the Bundesliga club has confirmed.
Heynckes’ decision to leave Leverkusen has increased speculation that he could return to struggling champions Bayern Munich to replace Louis van Gaal, who is also leaving at the end of this season.
“Leverkusen is a well managed club with a great team and it was difficult taking this decision,” said Heynckes, who has not dismissed reports linking him with a return to Bayern.
“I will do everything so we finish second in the league and qualify directly for the Champions League,” said the 65-year-old.
Heynckes’ most recent spell at Bayern was in 2009 when he took over for the last five games of the season to help them clinch second spot and Champions League qualification after the sacking of Juergen Klinsmann.
Dutchman Van Gaal, who succeeded Heynckes in 2009, has paid the price for a disappointing season this term by agreeing to leave a year before his contract was due to expire.
Dutt has signed a two-year contract at Leverkusen, who are in second place, seven points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund and five ahead of third-paced Hanover 96 with seven games remaining.
“Robin Dutt was always going to be our first choice to succeed Heynckes whether in 2011 or 2012,” said Leverkusen sports director Rudi Voeller.
Dutt steered Freiburg to promotion to the Bundesliga two years ago and they lie in eighth place with a chance of a European spot.
“I am looking forward to the challenge that is Leverkusen,” said Dutt. “Bayer’s philosophy is in line with my views on football.”