BERLIN– Croatian Niko Kovac will succeed Jupp Heynckes as Bayern Munich coach next season, agreeing on a three-year contract, the German champions said on Friday.
Treble-chasing Bayern had tried to stick with Heynckes, who had come out of retirement to take over in October until the end of the season, but the 72-year-old turned down an extension of his current deal.
“Niko Kovac will be the new coach from July 1, 2018,” said Bayern sports director Hasan Salihamidzic in a statement. “We agreed yesterday on a three-year contract.
“Niko was a Bayern player, he knows the people in charge as well as the structure and the club’s DNA. We are convinced he is the right coach for the future of Bayern.”
The 46-year-old, who had a long playing career in the Bundesliga, was at Bayern between 2001-3.
The decision, however, in favour of Kovac marks a turn for success-driven Bayern, who had previously opted for big-name coaches including Champions League winners Heynckes, Louis van Gaal and Pep Guardiola.
After retiring Kovac was briefly an assistant coach in Austria and took over Croatia before signing with relegation-threatened Eintracht Frankfurt in 2016 and turning them into Champions League contenders this season.
His brother Robert, also a former Bayern player, will join him from Frankfurt as his assistant.