Premier League • England

Next Liverpool manager: FSG to consider shock Championship duo with former Man City No 2 coming into contention

Enzo Maresca of Leicester and Russell Martin of Southampton have been tipped as contenders to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool

Enzo Maresca of Leicester and Russell Martin of Southampton have been tipped as contenders to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool

Liverpool are being tipped to launch a surprise move for one of two EFL bosses as a successor to Jurgen Klopp if the Reds are blocked in any approach to make Xabi Alonso the new manager at Anfield.

The Merseysiders are gearing up for arguably the most important decision of FSG’s 14-year reign as Liverpool owners following the announcement by Klopp last month that he is to step down at the end of the season. The German departs Anfield having steered the Reds to six major trophies over the course of his nine years at the helm – and there could be more to come with Liverpool still alive in four trophies this season and having the ambitions – and crucially the squad depth – to potentially win the lot.

Just who they choose to succeed him though is likely to prove a massive moment for their American owners. In order to aid their quest, however, FSG have turned to a man billed as the ‘world’s greatest leader’ to help advise with that selection and amid claims one coach, Xabi Alonso, has been told it is his “destiny” to boss the Reds.

Prising the Spaniard away from Bayer Leverkusen, however, will not be an easy task. He has the German side top of the Bundesliga and challenging for the first German crown in their 119-year history.

As such, any such appointment – in order so as not to destabilise both Leverkusen and Liverpool’s seasons – will be kept on the backburner until the summer.

Nonetheless, reports have stated that Liverpool have made ‘first contact’ over the possible appointment of the 42-year-old.

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Alonso is held in the highest regard by Liverpool supporters and appears to tick all the boxes that FSG would want from a manager.

And to further aid their prospects, it’s claimed Alonso would look to bring three of his Leverkusen stars with him to Anfield in an astonishing €175m triple coup were he to get the chance to succeed Klopp.

However, like any club in a similar position, Liverpool are reportedly drawing up a strategy in case their push for Alonso fails.

To that end, some feel he may decide the chance to take on the Reds job may come just a little bit too soon in his relatively-fledgling career.

As a result, a number of other names have been thrown into the hat with Roberto De Zerbi and Ruben Amorim also touted as possible options.

However, outspoken Peterborough chairman and Liverpool supporter Darragh MacAnthony claims the Reds could do far worse than turn to the EFL if a move for Alonso fails.

And he reckons the two men curently in the top two slots in the Championship, Enzo Maresca of Leicester and Southampton coach Russell Martin could both be contenders for the Liverpool job.

Explaining why Klopp is right to decide he needs a break, MacAnthony told The Hard Truth: “What he’s done for the club has been evolutionary winning a league title for the first time in 30 years. The football, the identity – I understand why he’s done it.

“I understand he’s exhausted, it’s full tilt, if I were a football manager I’d need a break because I’m full tilt.”

“I’m not comparing myself but his personality is all in. If he can’t give everything, he’s one of those people who are real. Some might pick their £15m up and get on with it but he’s not like that. Even if he was poor, he’d still walk.”

Liverpool tipped to turn to Championship duo if Xabi Alonso bid falters

Turning his focus towards potential replacements for Klopp, MacAnthony continued: “We’d love Alonso. I’m not sure we’d get him because Real Madrid might be sniffing around him. Outside of that, I can’t think of too many candidates I’d love. I don’t want someone in their 50s or 60s. I want someone where it’s Liverpool 2.0 or now you can call it Liverpool 2.5 because you’re now going to have a new manager.

“They’re younger, they’re fresher, you want new ideas. I think we’re going to have a good season winning one or two trophies. We’re not going to win the league, it’ll be Man City, I’ve always said they’ll win the league by a canter. Really devastating and the Premier League is losing another great character. If Pep left in a year, the Premier League is like: ‘What are you left with?’ A real shame.

“I think you look at the Brighton guy [De Zerbi]. The Leicester guy [Maresca] might be an outside chance. He’s getting a bit of criticism from Leicester fans for keeping the ball too much. It could be the German guy, Nagelsmann, who I’m not really fond of. Alonso would be ideal because he’s Liverpool DNA.

“Klopp’s No.2 [Pep Lijnders] is leaving, do they give him a chance? He looks like he’s got a bit of character.

“I don’t really know. An outside shout would be someone I think will manage at the top and will get a chance. They won’t take a chance on him now, he’ll have to prove it would be Russell Martin. When he takes Southampton up and finishes [in the] top half with his style of play, bigger clubs will come in and take him.”

Former Man City No 2 Maresca has an astonishing 77.14 win percentage record since taking charge at Leicester, while Martin, after some early struggles at St Mary’s, currently has Saints on an impressive 23-game unbeaten run.

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