Why Liverpool want Xabi Alonso to replace Jurgen Klopp as manager

In a shocking announcement from the club on Friday morning, it was confirmed Jurgen Klopp is set to step down as Liverpool manager at the end of the 2023/24 campaign.

Liverpool are currently top of the Premier League, in the League Cup final and favourites to win the Europa League. This means Klopp can potentially go out with a rather large bang come May/June. However, it also highlights the immense pressure that will be put on his successor.

At the time of writing, the man being backed to replace Jurgen Klopp, and the bookies favourite at 1/1, is Liverpool legend Xabi Alonso.

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Next permanent Liverpool manager

Xabi Alonso to be next permanent Liverpool manager

But is Alonso up to the task of succeeding one of the greatest managers in the modern Premier League era? Well, despite his limited time in management, the Spaniard is currently making a name for himself as one of the best young coaches in Europe.

After retiring from his playing career in 2017, Alonso moved into coaching with Real Madrid’s under-14s in 2018. This was followed by three years in charge of Real Sociedad’s B team, before he was appointed coach of Bayer Leverkusen in October 2022.

Leverkusen were second bottom of the Bundesliga at the time but a year and a bit later, they are currently top of Germany’s premier division, four points above Bayern Munich having won 15, drawn three, lost zero, scored 50 and conceded just 14 in 18 games so far this term.

Alonso’s impact at Leverkusen was not immediate, with his first match a 4-0 league victory over Schalke being followed by a six-match winless run.

However, the former Real Madrid man eventually turned things around, with a two-month unbeaten run towards the end of the 2022/23 campaign seeing Leverkusen secure a sixth-place finish and Europa League qualification.

That form has, of course, continued into the current season, with Alonso and co. on course to guide Leverkusen to their first league title in 119 years.

Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes provided some insight into Alonso’s role in the club’s huge transformation earlier this year: “There’s a seriousness and maturity in our football that reflects Xabi as a person. He’s a natural competitor and winner. He’s instilled a battle-hardened attitude and a fighting spirit in the side.”

In terms of his style of play, Alonso has been able to draw from many different ideas he encountered playing under managerial greats such as Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafael Benitez.

When he arrived in Germany, the 42-year-old set about stabilising Leverkusen’s defence by playing counter-attacking football. Alonso then put his attention toward improving Leverkusen’s quality on the ball.

Discussing Xabi’s style, Simon Rolfe added: “Xabi is not a dogmatic manager. When necessary, the team know how to defend or be pragmatic in certain situations, it’s not always the beautiful build-up from the back. Finding a way to win is what matters to him, more than anything.”

But while, as Rolfe claims, Alonso may prioritise winning over sticking strictly to one style of play, Bayer Leverkusen have produced some of the best, attacking football in the German top-flight this term and have the stats to back it up.

Only giants Bayern Munich have managed more shot-creating action (671) and goal-creating actions (91) than Leverkusen (557 and 89) this season.

Leverkusen also boast the second most shots, shots on target and shots on target percentage in the Bundesliga this term.

And while Leverkusen are slightly lagging behind Bayern in terms of goals in 2023/24, they are very much dominating the division when it comes to possession. The former midfielder’s side have made 11291 passes this term, they have the joint-highest pass-completion rate at 87.2 per cent and have the highest progressive passing distance of all 18 clubs.

It is also worth pointing out that Alonso has been able to transform Leverkusen into one of the best sides in Germany while spending very little money. The 2023 summer transfer window saw Die Werkself pay out €80.80m in transfer fees. However, they also sold several players to bring their net spend for the summer to just €11.9m.

This is no doubt something Liverpool will take into consideration when looking at their next manager as it is well known FSG are not huge spenders, unless they can recoup some money from players sales in the same year.

Another key selling point for Liverpool when looking at Alonso as a potential Klopp replacement will be his personality. Managers like Jose Mourinho have curated reputations for themselves by being very outspoken and quite negative in the media.

Alonso, however, is seemingly a much more reserved character who will go about his business with little drama, much like he is currently doing in his current role.

A Bayer Leverkusen official shed some light on the type of man Alonso is earlier this year: “Having a deep theoretical understanding of football and a superstar aura from winning everything as a player is a ridiculously powerful combination for a manager. He’s done it all but he has the work ethic and humility of a total novice.

“You just sort of believe every word he says, because of who he is and the way he says it,” the employee says. “You believe that he will bring success. Because he does.

“There are some former pros who try to impress players with their skills on the ball, since they don’t have much else to offer by way of coaching,” the official added. “Xabi doesn’t need that. He just plays a killer pass to get his idea across — like somebody would draw an arrow on the tactics board - and to raise the quality of the training exercise.”

There were reports linking Alonso with another of his former clubs - Real Madrid - earlier this season. But if Liverpool can convince him to make the move back to England, he appears to have all the qualities required to fill Jurgen Klopp’s boots.

Next Liverpool Manager Betting Odds

Last updated, Monday 10 April

Next Liverpool managerOdds
Arne Slot1/5
Ruben Amorim14/1
Roberto De Zerbi14/1
Jose Mourinho20/1
Xabi Alonso20/1
Pep Lijnders20/1
Ange Postecoglou20/1
Unai Emery25/1
Thomas Frank28/1
Luis Enrique33/1
Zinedine Zidane33/1
Graham Potter33/1
Vincenzo Italiano33/1
Simone Inzaghi33/1
Hansi Flick40/1
Jose Mourinho40/1
Antonio Conte40/1
Gareth Southgate50/1

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Josh Barker

Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.