Liverpool see Roberto De Zerbi as potential new manager if they fail to secure Xabi Alonso

Sporting’s Rúben Amorim and Germany boss Julian Nagelsmann also considered as Jürgen Klopp bows out at end of season

Liverpool have identified Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi as a potential replacement for Jürgen Klopp should they fail to appoint their top target, Xabi Alonso.

Klopp is set to depart at the end of the season and Liverpool do not have long to make a decision on their next manager. Alonso has emerged as the leading candidate after his stunning impact at Bayer Leverkusen, who are eight points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, but he is not certain to take the job.

Bayern Munich will be in the mix for the former Liverpool midfielder when Thomas Tuchel leaves at the end of the season and another season at Leverkusen has not been ruled out.

Liverpool need alternative plans and have added De Zerbi to a list that also contains Sporting’s Rúben Amorim and the Germany manager, Julian Nagelsmann. De Zerbi, who has impressed since joining Brighton last season, is also believed to be of interest to Manchester United should they sack Erik ten Hag.

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The Italian took over at Brighton when Graham Potter left for Chelsea in September 2022. De Zerbi, who previously held roles at clubs including Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk, has caught the eye with his commitment to attacking football and tactical acumen. Liverpool have made informal checks on the 44-year-old, who led Brighton to sixth and an FA Cup semi-final last season.

The interest is at an exploratory stage and it has been stressed that Liverpool’s hunt for Klopp’s replacement is not advanced. The club’s priority is to sort their football operations structure and hire a new sporting director. Liverpool want to tempt Michael Edwards, their old sporting director, back to Anfield.

It remains to be seen whether De Zerbi is ready for a fresh challenge. Brighton are renowned for their smart recruitment but have a model of selling their best players. They allowed the key midfielders Alexis Mac Allister and Moisés Caicedo to leave for big money last summer.

However, Brighton have not suffered a significant drop-off this season. They are seventh in the Premier League and meet Roma in the last 16 of the Europa League next week. De Zerbi has had to contend with an injury crisis. – Guardian