Premier League • England

Villa Gerrard issue as Liverpool eye Dutchman as Jurgen Klopp successor

James Marshment
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jurgen Klopp, Virgil van Dijk celebrate after Liverpool FC's Champions League win at Atletico Madrid

Liverpool FC’s owners Fenway Sports Group have reportedly identified a new preference to succeed Jurgen Klopp in the Anfield hotseat once the German calls it a day.

Klopp has enjoyed a period of sustained success at Anfield, including winning the Champions League. However, his greatest triumph to date is the ending of the club’s 30-year wait to be crowned champions of England. After a disappointing season last time out though, Liverpool look back on track for more trophy success this season.

Klopp’s deal at Anfield expires in 2024 – and he’s already made it perfectly clear he plans a year-long break from the game when it does.

When asked if he is going to extend his contract at Liverpool to beyond 2024, Klopp told Bild: “There’s no point in saying anything about that because it’s still so long away.

“How am I supposed to know what’s going to happen in three years’ time? Most people don’t even know where they’ll be in two, three weeks.”

The 54-year-old was touted as a contender to replace Joachim Low as Germany coach earlier in the year.

Klopp though quickly ruled himself out of the running.

In March, he said: “Am I available for the job after the summer? No.

“Someone else will do the job and with the number of good German managers I am sure the German FA will find a good solution.

“I have three years left at Liverpool. It’s simple. You sign a contract and you stick to it. I stuck to contracts at Mainz and Dortmund.”

That means Liverpool have just over two and a half years to consider who to replace Klopp with.

For many years, Steven Gerrard was long considered the Liverpool manager-in-waiting. The success he enjoyed with Rangers meant he was perfectly placed to eventually succeed Klopp.

However, Gerrard has since left Ibrox and become the new manager at Aston Villa. In doing so, he’s signed a three-and-a-half-year deal, taking him to summer 2025.

That makes the prospect of him replacing Klopp in 2024 all the more difficult, especially if he becomes a big success at Villa.

As such, The Athletic claims FSG are already casting their minds elsewhere. While they are said to have loads of respect for Gerrard, they are already putting plans to put Pep Lijnders in charge.

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The Dutchman is currently in his second spell working as Klopp’s No 2. He worked under Klopp from Klopp’s appointment in 2015 to 2018 before leaving for Dutch side NEC.

That move proved short-lived, however, and Lijnders was soon back at Anfield working under Klopp again.

A fiercely-trusted ally of the German, Lijnders is a hugely-respected figure at Anfield. Indeed, Lijnders is left solely to develop the Reds’ training programme and has the total trust of Klopp.

That feeling is reciprocated by owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner.

And The Athletic claims plans are already in place to eventually install Lijnders as Klopp’s long-term successor.

Gerrard focus very much on Villa

Having only just stepped into the Villa Park hotseat, Gerrard has a big job on his hands to get the club upwardly mobile.

Their owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens are aiming to push into the upper reaches of the Premier League. Indeed, after failing to secure a top-half finish last season, together with five defeats on the spin this, it was no surprise to see Dean Smith replaced at the helm.

Gerrard faces the media for the first time as Villa boss at 11am Thursday morning. He will likely be asked about his long-term aims at Villa – and that will also no doubt include a potential future move to Anfield.

Gerrard though has already addressed the issue and insists his focus is very much at Villa.

“I don’t think me or anyone else will be able to control the noise, but for me that’s not important,” Gerrard told Villa TV when discussing a return to Anfield next month.

“What’s important is the chance to go to Anfield and win and try and take maximum points. That is the attitude and mentality that we’ll have going into every game.

“It is what it is, I want to win every game that I play in. Now my priority, my focus and everything that I will give on a daily basis will be for Aston Villa.

“One thing I can guarantee for all the supporters, the players and all the staff here is that when I commit to something, I’m all in.”

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