Klopp full of praise for Xabi Alonso, the front-runner to succeed him at Liverpool

Liverpool manager again distances club from any move for Kylian Mbappé

Jürgen Klopp has given a glowing endorsement of Xabi Alonso, the front-runner to succeed him at Liverpool, describing the Bayer Leverkusen coach as the “standout” of the next generation of leading managers.

Alonso is favourite to replace the Liverpool manager this summer having taken Leverkusen from second bottom of the Bundesliga to a five-point lead at the top in 16 months. The 42-year-old’s team are also in the German Cup semi-finals, reached the Europa League semi-finals in Alonso’s first season and comprehensively outplayed Bayern Munich in a 3-0 victory last weekend.

Klopp, who again distanced Liverpool from any move for Kylian Mbappé, claimed his appraisal of Alonso was not connected to the impending vacancy at Anfield. He has said he is not involved in the search for his successor but it is inconceivable that the owner, Fenway Sports Group, would overlook Klopp’s effusive praise of the club’s former midfielder.

“Xabi is doing an incredible job,” Klopp said. “If there would not be the rumours around, that’s completely independent. If you would have asked me eight weeks ago about Xabi Alonso I would have gone: ‘Oh my God.’ The dinosaurs if you want – Ancelotti, Mourinho, Guardiola, maybe me – we will not do it for the next 20 years. Okay, maybe Mourinho will. The next generation is already there, and I would say Xabi is standout in that department.


“Former world-class player, from a coaching family as well which helps a little, he was like a coach already when he was playing. The football he is playing, the teams he sets up, the transfers he did, it is absolutely exceptional. I played a long time in the Bundesliga and it is super-impressive. Not only the points tally but the way they play. Leverkusen was clearly the better side in the first game against Bayern and that is rare.

“To be honest when we beat Bayern at Dortmund it was a bit of very well defended, counterattack and taking the momentum. Especially at the beginning. But Leverkusen were better. That was probably the real surprise given the short time he was there and it’s a young team. He has super signings for this team, exactly what they needed, and that’s really a very special job.

“Leverkusen has a very good chance to win the cup. When you look through the Europa League, Leverkusen is one of the favourites there as well, so it could be the season for Leverkusen. Really crazy.”

Klopp identified Alonso’s immediate impact at Leverkusen as his most impressive managerial trait so far.

“How quick his team is that well-tuned,” he said. “For the time it’s taken, he’s put his proper stamp on it. Nobody knows if that is always the way he wants to play or if it’s the way this team specifically plays, he is not long enough in the business to tell, but obviously the coaching part is exceptional. That is clear.”

Mbappé's decision to leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer has renewed speculation about a move to Liverpool despite the sums involved and likelihood of the France international joining Real Madrid. Klopp believes the striker will be beyond the financial reach of most clubs, Liverpool included.

“I have no clue,” he said of the Real links. As for other clubs entering the race, he added: “Obviously I am not involved in that but I can tell you that I would be surprised. It would be tricky for most of the top clubs I know – [because of] wages, signing fee.”

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