Xabi Alonso is the obvious choice to take over at Liverpool, and for good reason.
Jurgen Klopp has announced that he will depart the Reds at the end of the current campaign, bringing an end to a nine-year stint that saw him become the club’s most decorated coach of the Premier League era.
Finding a suitable successor for what Liverpoolfans describe as a “mountain of a man” will be no mean feat, in fact, some will consider it an impossible task given how Klopp turned a middling Reds side into one of Europe’s best teams.
Yet there is one candidate who seems perfect – almost too perfect – to replace the German. The obvious choice, of course, isn’t always the best choice, as Bayern Munich are finding out with Thomas Tuchel right now, but Klopp was the obvious option to replace Brendan Rodgers and Reds bosses would be well advised to play it safe again.
The man in question is, of course, former Reds midfielder Xabi Alonso.
Alonso’s rise to prominence
The Liverpool and Real Madrid legend has been nothing short of a stunning success thus far in his still-young managerial career. Alonso took over Bayer Leverkusen off the back of some good work with Real Sociedad’s reserves and got them out of a relegation scrap and into the Europa League.
Intriguingly, Alonso’s Bayer 04 side underwent a similar evolution to Klopp’s Liverpool, though they achieved their transition in record time. When the 42-year-old arrived in the Rhineland, the Werkself were a pure transition side, relying heavily on the pace and counter threat of players like Jeremie Frimpong and Moussa Diaby.
Over the summer, and with the full backing of his higher-ups, Alonso has turned Bayer into an elite possession side who are able to carve opponents open at will. Leverkusen are the only side in Europe’s top five leagues who are yet to be beaten this season and they currently find themselves four points clear of Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga.
Eyebrows would be raised if Liverpool were to bring the former midfield maestro back to Anfield given Alonso’s relative inexperience compared to someone like Roberto de Zerbi or Julian Nagelsmann, but the Basque’s record speaks for itself: he has won 41 of his 64 matches in charge of the Werkself.
Xabi Alonso at Leverkusen this season
In coaching, an impressive CV is one thing, but there are also some intangibles that can’t really be controlled or accounted for. The big thing with the Reds, at least that is what fans believe, is that a manager has to ‘get’ Liverpool. Klopp ‘got’ Liverpool and Alonso, as a former player and a man still adored by the club’s faithful, will surely also ‘get’ Liverpool.
His Reds connection, his meticulous approach to coaching, his possession-based style that is incisive and domineering without being boring to watch all make Xabi Alonso the ideal successor to Klopp. Leverkusen have denied the rumours that there is a clause in his contract – which runs until 2026 – that allows him to join his former clubs, so Alonso won’t come cheap in the summer, but he could very well be worth the money.