Premier League • England

Next Liverpool manager: Left-field options to replace Klopp including divisive former Man Utd boss

Liverpool manager targets Niko Kovac, Thiago Motta and Marco Rose

Liverpool manager targets Niko Kovac, Thiago Motta and Marco Rose

Liverpool are on the hunt for a new manager and finding an adequate replacement for Jurgen Klopp was never going to be an easy task.

The German coach has guided the Merseyside giants to eight major trophies since joining the club in 2015 and they could still lift another Premier League title this season.

Liverpool initially made Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso their top target to replace Klopp. They offered the Spaniard a contract but were unable to lure him away from the Bundesliga club, who have just lifted the first-ever league title.

Sources have confirmed to TEAMtalk that the Reds offered a three-year deal to their second-choice option Ruben Amorim, who has enjoyed great success with Sporting CP.

West Ham have opened talks with the 39-year-old coach, while Manchester United have also joined the race for his signature. As a result, Amorim joining Liverpool has become ‘unlikely.’

This has forced Liverpool sporting director Richard Hughes and CEO of football Michael Edwards to look seriously at alternatives and in this feature, we list five left-field managerial candidates he could turn to.

Niko Kovac 

David Ornstein claimed on Tuesday that while Amorim has been heavily linked with a switch to Anfield, he is “not necessarily Liverpool’s first-choice option.”

In the wake of that report, a new name has emerged in the Red’s manager hunt – Niko Kovac.

An agent representing Kovac has allegedly been in England this week to make it clear that he would be open to joining a top Premier League side.

As things stand, the only club that definitely has an upcoming vacancy is Liverpool. Edwards is reportedly a fan of the coach anyway and he has now been ‘identified as a leading candidate to replace Klopp.’

Kovac has managed Croatia, Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern Munich, Monaco and Wolfsburg and has had mixed success.

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He won the DFB Pokal with Eintracht Frankfurt in 2018 – the club’s first trophy since 1988 at the time – which earned him the Bayern job. There, he led the German giants to a league and cup double in 2018-19 but was ultimately unable to build on that success.

Kovac struggled with Monaco and Wolfsburg but he remains a well-respected manager by clubs across Europe and is characterised by a high pressing style – not dissimilar to Klopp at Liverpool.

Thiago Motta

Thiago Motta’s Bologna side have been fantastic this season and are on the verge of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since 1964, when it was still the European Cup.

His success has not gone unnoticed and according to reports, both Liverpool and Manchester United have him on their radars.

Similar to Kovac, Motta puts a big focus on his players being aggressive without the ball and usually wants his team to go man-to-man and press high up the pitch.

Bologna have the third-best defensive record in Serie A this season which is the main reason behind their success but certainly haven’t been boring in attack, their striker Joshua Zirkzee scoring 10 goals so far – prompting interest from Arsenal and top Italian clubs.

Motta looks destined to manage a top club one day and it’ll be interesting to see whether Liverpool take a punt on him this summer.

Gary O’Neil

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil is arguably in with a shout of winning the Premier League Manager of the Season Award for the job he’s done since taking over at Wolves.

The English coach was very unlucky to be sacked as Bournemouth manager at the end of last term after guiding them away from the relegation zone.

His Wolves side sit in an impressive 11th place in the Premier League table and are already seven points better off than they had at this point last season.

Gary O'Neil Wolves stats

They even have an outside chance of qualifying for Europe but it seems unlikely after Chelsea’s return upturn in form.

O’Neil’s success with Wolves has reportedly caught Liverpool’s eye and he is on Edwards’ shortlist to replace Klopp. Man Utd could also make a move for him should Sir Jim Ratcliffe sack Erik ten Hag.

READ MORE: Liverpool tipped for ‘horrible end’ with Klopp now ‘flat and dejected’ and his side ‘out of energy’

Marco Rose

Borussia Dortmund boss Marco Rose has been named as ‘one to watch’ in Liverpool’s manager search by multiple outlets.

The German club reigned victorious over Atletico Madrid on Tuesday to book their spot in the Champions League semi-finals.

Their win could also mean that a fifth-place finish in the Bundesliga will see them qualify for the UCL next season – which is where they currently stand in the table – so it was a huge victory for two reasons.

Rose has to take a lot of credit for Dortmund’s European success this season and he has been on Liverpool’s radar for some time.

The 47-year-old was first linked with a move to Anfield back in 2021 and some members of the Red’s hierarchy still admire him, per reports.

Rose could be an option Liverpool turn to should they miss out on Amorim. He is under contract with Dortmund until 2025, though, so luring him away from the Bundesliga giants will not be easy.

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho has managed some of the world’s biggest clubs and is currently on the hunt for his next job after being sacked as Roma boss in January.

The former Chelsea, Man Utd, Tottenham and Real Madrid manager has been heavily linked with a move to Saudi Arabia and didn’t rule out that possibility in a recent interview.

Liverpool could certainly do with bringing in a proven winner like Mourinho, however, and given he’s available it’s no surprise to see him listed as an option for them by multiple outlets.

The ‘Special One’ may have spent two years with the Reds’ bitter rivals but it would be interesting to see whether he’d take up the opportunity to manage Liverpool should the opportunity present itself.

Newcastle have also been linked with a move for the experienced coach as the club’s owners consider parting ways with Eddie Howe at the end of the season.

Mourinho would certainly be the most controversial appointment on this list but it would be worth it just to see the Man Utd fans’ fume.

Arne Slot

Reports suggest that amid the doubts surrounding the potential appointment of Amorim, Feyenoord manager Arne Slot has become the ‘new favourite’ to take the top job at Anfield.

As confirmed by Fabrizio Romano, the Reds have already held talks with Slot’s representatives and they were ‘very positive’ and further discussions are set to follow ‘quickly.’

There is no release clause in the manager’s contract, but Feyenoord will demand a compensation fee should Liverpool lure him away from the Dutch club, as they did when Tottenham approached him a year ago.

Liverpool’s ‘initial bid for Slot’ was ‘not accepted,’ but ‘discussions remain ongoing with confidence.’

Slot, 45, guided his team to the Eredivisie title last season and the coach’s tactics and results caught the attention of several top European clubs.

He now seems to be a real option for Liverpool and it will be interesting to see how this story develops in the coming weeks.

Thomas Frank

As exclusively revealed by TEAMtalk, Brentford manager Thomas Frank is another candidate with plenty of admirers within the Liverpool hierarchy.

The Danish coach has been a resounding success at with the Bees, leading them to promotion from the Championship and keeping them in the Premier League for three seasons.

Brentford’s recruitment under Frank has been key to their success, with the manager bringing in classy players such as Ivan Toney, Bryan Mbeumo, David Raya, Christian Eriksen, Yoanne Wissa and others for cut-price fees.

Frank is happy at the Gtech Community Stadium but TEAMtalk sources suggest that if Liverpool come forward with a concrete offer, he would find it difficult to turn it down.

Comparing Arne Slot and Thomas Frank

Paulo Fonseca

Another manager Liverpool have reportedly held talks with is Lille boss Paulo Fonseca, who seems destined to join a Premier League club at some point in the future.

‘Informal talks’ took place earlier in the season with the 51-year-old and a number of key figures behind the scenes at Liverpool believe he would be a good appointment.

Fonseca has already won nine major trophies as a manager, with his most successful stint to date coming with Shakhtar Donetsk between 2016 and 2019.

His Lille side currently sit in fourth place in the Ligue 1 table, on track for their second consecutive European qualification under Fonseca.

He sees the Premier League as ‘very attractive,’ per reports, and would jump at the chance to replace Klopp at Liverpool.

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