Bayern Munich hires Niko Kovac from Frankfurt as coach


UNICH — Niko Kovac is returning to Bayern Munich as coach next season after impressing at Eintracht Frankfurt.

The 46-year-old Croat, who played for Bayern from 2001-03, agreed to a three-year contract with the Bundesliga champions starting in July.

The former defensive midfielder will take over from Jupp Heynckes, who stepped out of retirement to take charge at Bayern last October but has long said he will not continue beyond the end of the season. Bayern’s attempts to convince the 72-year-old Heynckes otherwise were unsuccessful.

Despite relative inexperience after a stint in charge of Croatia, Kovac saved Frankfurt from relegation after taking over in March 2016 and led the team to the German Cup final the following season. Champions League qualification is possible this season after another stellar campaign.

Frankfurt also has a German Cup semifinal match against Schalke next week.

“Niko was a player at Bayern, he knows the characters and the structures and the DNA of the club very well,” Bayern sports director sports director Hasan Salihamidzic said. “We are convinced that he is the right coach for the future of FC Bayern.”

Bayern was initially in talks with former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel, but he informed the club that he had agreed to take over another team while it was still trying to convince Heynckes to stay.

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