Xabi Alonso has been pushed forward as a strong candidate to become the next Liverpool manager thanks to his progress with Bayer Leverkusen and a German former Red has revealed what might be in the Spaniard’s mind.
Just over 10 days have passed since Jurgen Klopp announced his intention to resign as Liverpool manager at the end of the season, but it must have felt like a lifetime for fans, eager to know how his era at the Anfield helm will end and who could take the reins thereafter.
There is no doubt that Klopp – the man to lead Liverpool to their sixth Champions League or European Cup crown, and first title of the Premier League era – will be a tough act to follow on Merseyside.
But various candidates are already springing up, such as former Liverpool midfielder Alonso.
The Spanish tactician graced the Anfield turf for four years during his playing career before representing the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, and he has since shown significant potential as a coach.
Indeed, Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen side are currently top of the Bundesliga table, unbeaten after their first 20 games in the league this season.
Given Alonso’s previous association with Liverpool, he appears to be an obvious candidate for their upcoming vacancy.
And another former Liverpool midfielder, Dietmar Hamann, has explained why Alonso would be capable of succeeding Klopp after what he has been doing in Hamann’s native Germany.
“I think if anyone can do it it’s Xabi,” Hamann, who shared a pitch 38 times with Alonso during their Liverpool careers, told talkSPORT.
“He’s loved by the people, he’s been a brilliant player and what he’s doing at Leverkusen is exceptional.
“Obviously there’s a danger to going in after Klopp, the pressure and the expectations will be high, but I think they will have a team – if they keep them together – that competes for the Premier League next season.
“People talk about [Roberto] De Zerbi, [Ange] Postecoglou, Liverpool is different and he [Alonso] knows what the club is like. He’s loved by the fans.
“For me, I think he would be the ideal choice. If he sees it the same way, I’m not too sure.
“If you look at Liverpool, Liverpool is a special and unique club and I think the success of Klopp was down to the relationship he’s had with the players, the fans and the city; he changed the mentality in the whole city.”
Hamann explains what makes Alonso’s Leverkusen so good
While many Liverpool fans will be aware of where Alonso’s current club are in their table, many might not know how he has specifically got them playing.
Hamann can help fill in some of the gaps, explaining how Alonso has transformed Leverkusen.
“They just play fantastic football,” Hamann began.
“I think what he does is gives a lot of players an awful lot of confidence because they had some good players before, but when he took over they were third or fourth from bottom last year, within six or 12 months he turned them into title contenders.
“They play Bayern Munich on Saturday which is a big one, and some of the players look like new players. He gives them responsibility, and if you give players responsibility most of the time they do pay it back.
“In [Florian] Wirtz they have probably got the best German player in their team, [Victor] Boniface they brought in from Belgium and he’s scoring goals, and they also lost four or five players to the Africa Cup of Nations. They’re coming back slowly now and [what makes him special is] he’s a man manager.”
Leverkusen’s next league game is on Saturday, against the club they are trying to dethrone as Bundesliga champions, and the side closest to their points tally this season: Bayern Munich.
Hamann is confident Alonso’s side will avoid defeat to Bayern – and wonders if the manager might look favourably upon a new challenge with Liverpool if they can cross the finishing line as the first Bundesliga champions other than Bayern in over a decade.
“They have a chance, I think they won’t get beaten next week and they’ll go into the final games with a lead,” Hamann said.
“If they were to win the league it would be sensational, and maybe if he wins it he’ll think, ‘this is as far as I can go, let’s take up a new challenge’.
“Liverpool is different, can he do it? I think if anyone can do it after Klopp it will be him.”
What may help Alonso’s case is a gentlemen’s agreement he has with his current employers to let him leave if an opportunity at the elite level arrives.