Premier League • England

Ruben Amorim to Liverpool: The reasons why Sporting coach is ideal successor to Jurgen Klopp

Sporting Lisbon boss Ruben Amorim is being linked with the Liverpool job

Linked with the Chelsea job prior to Mauricio Pochettino’s appointment and now reportedly eyed by Liverpool, Manchester United and Barcelona, Ruben Amorim is arguably the most in-demand young coach in Europe.

This is all despite fact that the 39-year-old has less than five years of top-flight managerial experience and has never coached outside his native Portugal.

Ahead of what is likely to be one of the most hotly contested managerial markets in recent memory this summer – with Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barcelona all set for vacancies in their dugouts – Amorim reportedly sits near the top of many elite clubs’ wish lists.

So just who is Ruben Amorim?

Although he has made his name managing bitter cross-town rivals Sporting CP, as a player, Amorim, a Lisbon native, spent most of his career with Benfica.

A midfielder, he played 154 games for As Aguias and earned 14 senior international caps for Portugal before retiring aged just 32 after a short loan spell in Qatar.

He moved quickly into coaching, taking up a role with third-tier Casa Pia. He then took charge of Braga’s reserve team in 2019 and impressed sufficiently that the club appointed him their first-team manager just three months later. He was just 34 years old and already at the helm of a perennial European contender within one of the Continent’s major leagues.

Amorim’s stint at the Braga helm was brief – just 13 games. But his departure from the club that had offered him his big break in management was not the result of underperformance. Having overseen 10 wins in those 13 matches, Sporting swooped to buy out the young coach’s contract and install him as Silas’ replacement at the Estadio Jose Avalade.

READ MORE: The frightening XI Liverpool could select if Ruben Amorim takes charge in the Anfield dugout

The crowning achievement of his career so far came in the 2020-21 season – his first full campaign with the Lisbon side – when he upset the decades-long domination of Benfica and Porto to steer Sporting to a first top-flight title in 19 years.

They finished five points clear of Porto at the top of the table and lost just once all season, a 4-3 defeat away to Benfica in their penultimate fixture of the campaign, with the title already wrapped up.

That triumph came as part of a domestic double, with Sporting also claiming the Portuguese League Cup that season, an honour they retained the following term while finishing second in the Primeira Liga, six points behind champions Porto.

Last season, hampered by the big-money sales of key players such as Nuno Mendes, Joao Palhinha and Matheus Nunes, Sporting began slowly but rallied to a third-place finish in the league thanks to a 14-game unbeaten run. They also reached the final of the Portuguese League Cup, which they lost to Porto, and a run to the Europa League quarter-finals was ended only by a narrow defeat to Juventus.

Ruben Amorim: The anti-Mourinho

Tactically, Amorim has proven to be adaptable throughout his career thus far, but at Sporting he has tended to favour a three-at-the-back system with a midfield anchored by a deep-sitting double pivot.

His Sporting side look to dominate possession and play through pressure by overloading in central zones, with defenders who are comfortable with the ball key to his approach.

In attack, he utilises a fluid, narrow front three, with width provided by wing-backs. Out of possession, he instructs his players to press high and doggedly in pursuit of the ball but with a co-ordination meticulously honed on the training field. Sporting tend to funnel the opposition into wide areas where they aim to set traps to win back the ball.

Amorim might be the latest in an impressive line of Portuguese coaches since Jose Mourinho won a Treble with Porto two decades ago, but away from the pitch the quiet, humble Amorim is the anti-Mourinho.

He has tipped his assistant manager, Carlos Fernandes, to become a better coach than him. And, when linked with the then-vacant Manchester United job in 2022, he suggested the Red Devils target another up-and-coming European manager.

“These are just rumours,” the 39-year-old said. “I don’t attach any importance to it. I think Manchester United should contact Erik ten Hag, and right away.”

Sporting currently sit second in the Primeira Liga table, level on points with Benfica and with a game in hand. Should they go on to claim a second title under his stewardship, it would set up a fitting, glorious exit for Amorim if he decides to embark on the next phase of his managerial career with one of the many European giants courting his services.

IN DEPTH: Ruben Amorim: Liverpool manager target’s top five Sporting CP signings amid Klopp replacement rumours