Premier League • England

Next Liverpool manager’s to-do list: Five major tasks for Klopp successor, from contracts to transfers

Ryan Baldi
Jurgen Klopp and Arne Slot

Whether it's Arne Slot or someone else, there are a few tasks for Jurgen Klopp's successor

Rumours of who will replace Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager for next season continue to swirl.

Former Reds midfielder Xabi Alonso, who has impressed in charge of Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen this season, has ruled himself out of contention. The likes of Ruben Amorim from Sporting CP, Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi and German national team boss Julian Nagelsmann are all said to have been in the running, but the new favourite is Arne Slot from Feyenoord.

Whoever assumes the Anfield hot seat from Klopp, though, the list of key tasks they will face as soon as they are appointed will remain the same. Here are five things that will be at the top of the next Liverpool manager’s to-do list.

Backroom balance

Dutch coach Pep Lijnders has been a key figure in Liverpool’s success under Klopp in recent seasons, with the Dutchman lauded for his tactical and developmental work on the pitches of the club’s training ground in Kirkby.

Lijnders was originally hired by Klopp’s predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, in 2014, but stayed on to work under the German. And, but for a brief departure for a short stint as manager of NEC in his homeland in 2018, he has remained an influential presence ever since.

But Lijnders – along with fellow assistant Peter Krawietz and development coach Vitor Matos – will leave the club with Klopp at the end of the season.

It will be crucial for the club’s new manager to stock his backroom staff with a core of equally talented and trustworthy confidants.

Sort the superstar contracts

One of the biggest uncertainties lingering over Liverpool beside Klopp’s imminent exit is the fact that three of the Reds’ best players – Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold – will be entering the final year of their respective contracts next season.

In conjunction with Michael Edwards, who had returned to the Anfield fold as CEO of Fenway Sports Group, and Richard Hughes, the club’s new sporting director appointed from Bournemouth, the incoming manager must work to convince his star players to recommit.

Salah has been the subject of serious interest from the Saudi Pro League in the recent past and the Egyptian will surely be the subject of such courtship again this summer. He turns 32 in June, so a future without Salah is something the Liverpool hierarchy must begin to consider.

But for the right terms, the Reds would be delighted to keep hold of their record-breaking goal-scorer. Either way, a resolution must be found otherwise the issue of his impending free agency will hang over the 2024-25 season.

It’s a different story for Van Dijk and Alexander-Arnold. The Dutch centre-back is in fact almost a year older than Salah, but the nature of his role means he conceivably has plenty of prime years ahead of him. And Alexander-Arnold is shining symbol of a local, academy-bred lad who has developed into a superstar at Anfield. Both must be retained.

Who’s in and who’s out?

After figuring out the future of his aforementioned stars, the next Liverpool manager will then be able to turn his attention to the fringe players within the squad he inherits.

He must evaluate veterans Thiago Alcantara, Joel Matip and goalkeeper Adrian – all out of contract at the end of the season, and so might already be gone – to decide whether their experience and influence is enough to keep them around despite age and injuries having seen them slide down the pecking order.

The new boss must also determine whether young players such as Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones and Conor Bradley are ready to step up into key roles or whether to be more patient with their development and seek upgrades in the transfer market.

Identify areas to strengthen

It is only once the previous two tasks are ticked off the new manager’s to-do list that this one can comprehensively be addressed.

Alongside Hughes and Edwards, the incoming coach will be required to fully evaluate the squad at his disposal and identify key areas of weakness that the transfer gurus can look to remedy.

It will be fascinating, too, to see the extent to which the new manager is backed in the transfer market. The size of the transfer budget will dictate how many areas Liverpool are able to strengthen and will give an indication of how much work the club’s hierarchy believes needs to be done to reshape the team as they enter their post-Klopp era.

Establish a fresh identity

When Klopp took over at Anfield in 2015, he arrived with an well-established tactical philosophy. Two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund were built on his ‘heavy metal football’. The term ‘gegenpressing’ entered the English football lexicon.

Klopp quickly installed his approach to high-intensity counter-pressing and Liverpool caught the eye for the energy and directness of their play under the German coach.

The Reds evolved over time as Klopp tweaked his personnel and reshaped his approach in line with the demands of the Premier League and in an effort to compete with Manchester City at the top end of the table.

Whoever replaces Klopp faces the conundrum of how quickly to try to implement their own vision on Merseyside.

Trying to act too fast, to institute too many changes from a regime that has been immensely successful, could backfire if he does not first earn buy-in from his players. But change too little and the new boss will face accusations that he is timid, overawed by the task of replacing legend. It is a question of timing as much as a question of tactics.


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