Premier League • England

Next Liverpool manager: Top five candidates to succeed Jurgen Klopp analysed after shock exit decision

Xabi Alonso, Roberto De Zerbi and Francesco Farioli

Xabi Alonso, Roberto De Zerbi and Francesco Farioli could all be contenders for the next Liverpool manager

Jurgen Klopp has rocked Liverpool by announcing his resignation at the end of the season, but the club will have little time to grieve and will have to quickly identify their preferred successor to their long-serving manager.

Klopp has enjoyed a legendary era on the Anfield touchline, winning Liverpool’s first Premier League title after also earning them Champions League crown number six.

Many of the players he has used have become legends in their own right, thanks largely to how Klopp himself has developed them.

But if Liverpool want to keep challenging in the territory they have got used to again under Klopp, they will need solid plans in place.

Here, we have taken a look at five of the candidates to replace Klopp as Liverpool manager, explaining each one’s chances.

Xabi Alonso

The first name that springs to mind for many is former Liverpool midfielder, Xabi Alonso.

The Spaniard is earning a reputation as one of Europe’s most promising coaches thanks to his work with Bayer Leverkusen, who remain top of the Bundesliga table after an unbeaten first half of the campaign.

Alonso previously enjoyed a successful spell as a Liverpool player between 2004 and 2009, helping them win the Champions League in 2005.

Bayer Leverkusen appointed Alonso as their head coach in 2022 after he cut his teeth in the Real Madrid youth ranks and with Real Sociedad’s B team.

In his current role, he has largely been using a variation of a 3-4-3 system, whereas Klopp’s Liverpool have usually set up in a 4-3-3.

Alonso is under contract in Germany until 2026, so Liverpool would need to pay compensation to Bayer Leverkusen to prise him away.

However, there is believed to be a gentlemen’s agreement whereby Leverkusen would let him leave if a bigger club came calling.

Fabrizio Romano recently explained: “Alonso is a fantastic manager, and it’s no surprise to see links with other clubs now, though I’m told there is no proper release clause in his contract.

“There is nothing official for other clubs to trigger – I’m told it’s just a gentleman’s agreement between Alonso and the Leverkusen board.

“Alonso was on the list of some clubs this summer, but Leverkusen insisted he was staying, but that they would let him go to a top, top club in the future.

“Alonso will be the one with the final decision, and he will make that decision in the summer, but there is no normal release clause, so it’s about convincing Alonso, rather than paying a formal release clause to Leverkusen.”

Time will tell, but it would be surprising if Alonso wasn’t tempted by the idea of a return to Liverpool, where he previously made 210 appearances as a player.

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Roberto De Zerbi

Already in the Premier League, another tactician showing encouraging signs is Roberto De Zerbi.

The Brighton boss has gradually worked his way up in management, consolidating his reputation with Sassuolo before earning an opportunity with Shakhtar Donetsk and then the Seagulls.

De Zerbi has picked up from where Graham Potter left off, guiding Brighton into the Europa League for the current campaign.

Still only 44 years old, it is unlikely that Brighton will be De Zerbi’s biggest job as he develops even further. Indeed, he has never been shy to spot an opportunity to step up a level.

Sources have mentioned De Zerbi to TEAMtalk as someone who could easily become a serious candidate for the Liverpool vacancy.

Tactically versatile, he has been using variants of a 4-3-3 recently, sometimes including a 4-3-1-2.

The fact he has proven himself in the Premier League could also work in his favour.

Francesco Farioli

Another Italian making waves in management is Francesco Farioli, who has established Nice as the main rivals for Paris Saint-Germain’s Ligue 1 title this season.

Farioli is only 34 years old but is already in his third appointment as a manager after previous spells in Turkey with Fatih Karagumruk and Alanyaspor.

Without a playing career to his name, Farioli earned his stripes as a member of De Zerbi’s staff at Benevento and Sassuolo, before setting out on his own path.

Nice took him to France in the summer and it has been a successful move so far, as he boasts an encouraging 55% win record with the side currently second in Ligue 1.

Sources have told TEAMtalk that Farioli may well be one to watch, since several European sides have been looking at him.

Pep Lijnders

Liverpool coach Pep Lijnders

It would hark back to the old Boot Room legend for Liverpool to appoint from within when they consider Klopp’s replacement.

His assistant manager, Pep Lijnders, has sometimes been touted to step into his role in the future, having already stepped up to take on press conferences for some domestic cup games, for example.

Lijnders briefly had a spell as manager of Dutch side NEC in 2018 but has been by Klopp’s side ever since, despite the current boss believing he would be capable of leading a side of his own again.

Obviously, he knows all of Liverpool’s current players and their strengths and weaknesses, possibly allowing for a smooth transition – even if it would be his first big job.

Still only 40, Lijnders could have a bright future ahead of him in management.

Back in 2021, he confirmed he was planning a future as a manager, stating: “That’s the plan. That’s the plan but Jurgen knows this.

“This isn’t the time to speak about these things because I have a contract until 2024. When the time comes, I will sit down with my management and will see the options I have.

“But we are in the middle of this project, this beautiful project, and after that I will decide. But definitely, yeah, that’s the plan.

“This is not the moment to speak about these things (becoming Liverpool manager one day).

“I will speak with my management in 2024 and we will see all the options that are on the table.”

When he made those declarations three years ago, Klopp was also out of contract until 2024. The German later extended his deal, but has obviously now backtracked to open up the vacancy this year.

Steven Gerrard

If we were to rewind a few years, some would have expected Steven Gerrard to be in contention to succeed Klopp as Liverpool boss.

The former captain won the Scottish Premiership with Rangers in 2021, but has since endured an underwhelming spell with Aston Villa and ended up in Saudi Arabia with Al-Ettifaq.

It would now come as a massive shock if Gerrard was to be considered by Liverpool, who would be wiser to look at his former midfield colleague Alonso.

Besides, Gerrard has only just signed a new contract to extend his commitment in the Saudi Pro League, where he is now due to stay until 2027.

Our sources have ruled out with near certainty the prospect of Gerrard taking the Liverpool job at this stage.

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