Liverpool are leading the race to appoint Xabi Alonso as their next manager after Jurgen Klopp, despite growing interest from other clubs, according to reports in Europe.
Klopp confirmed last month that this season will be his final one with Liverpool. In the summer, they will be looking to appoint a new manager for the first time since 2015.
Former Liverpool midfielder Alonso is among the main candidates after leading Bayer Leverkusen to the top of the Bundesliga with an unbeaten record this season.
At the weekend, Bayer Leverkusen strengthened their grip on first place by beating Bayern Munich 3-0, which has put pressure on Thomas Tuchel.
However, Liverpool are said to be ‘one step ahead’ of the competition for the 42-year-old.
The prospect of Alonso arriving back at Anfield has also been lifted by Sky Germany‘s Felix Fischer, who has though warned he might stay at Leverkusen for another season.
“He does such a tremendous job. He is not only a genius tactician and in terms of how he prepares his team, but he is a gentleman. Everything he does, he does right,” Fischer said.
“After the game, the fans wanted to celebrate with him but he spoke with his assistants and coaches to make sure they also joined him in the celebrations. He didn’t want to celebrate it alone which shows the respect he has for his entire team, for the fans and for the entire club.
“I imagine he will be the Liverpool coach one day but Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes said on Sunday that he is really sure that Alonso will still be the coach next season.
“All the top teams do have an eye on him. The boss of Bayern Munich will have an eye on him for some day, as well as Real Madrid.
“It’s going to be a race for Alonso. I don’t think it’ll take place in the summer, but the season after that.”
If Alonso is out of reach immediately, Liverpool will have to think about other candidates for when Klopp leaves.
Carragher explains Alonso tactics
Even if they were able to secure Alonso, they might have to prepare for a transition period as their style changes.
His former Liverpool teammate Jamie Carragher explored his Leverkusen tactics in detail on Monday Night Football, noticing one key difference with Klopp.
“When you ask if this is the perfect fit for Liverpool, what stands out for me are the number of passes and the amount that are short,” Carragher explained.
“So far, 646 of their 683 have been short. It comes to 95 per cent which is probably not what Liverpool are right now under Klopp. It’s more reminiscent of what we see from a Pep Guardiola team.
“It’s interesting when we put that on a scatter graph, and you can see Bayer Leverkusen alongside Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain [among Europe’s top five leagues].
“You can see Liverpool are further behind. We know from watching them that they are a more direct team and use counter-attacks more.
“From the company Leverkusen are keeping, we can say that Alonso’s own influence is more like Pep Guardiola, which makes sense as he’s been his manager.
“But if Xabi Alonso was to become the Liverpool manager, which I think he will, I feel they are quite fortunate given that Jurgen Klopp has chosen this moment to move on. The timing for Alonso to step in is pretty perfect given the job he’s doing.
“Would I expect Alonso’s Liverpool to be higher up this scatter graph [of the number of short passes measured against the number of 10-pass sequences]? Maybe.
“But I would expect somewhere in the middle – like where Bayern Munich are on the graph – as he has to have his own philosophy and his own imprint.
“This team is so used to playing a certain way under Jurgen Klopp, there’s the Anfield factor with the crowd, the energy. Xabi Alonso knows that so I would expect to see a merging of the two styles if he were to get the job.”