Liverpool have reportedly contacted Xabi Alonso about the prospect of taking over from Jurgen Klopp next season. He is said to be at the top of their shortlist of potential targets and is one of the most sought-after coaches in Europe after taking Bayer Leverkusen to the top of the Bundesliga this season.
Foot Mercato claim that contacts have already been made between Liverpool and Alonso as they look to sound out whether he would be interested in returning to Anfield.
Klopp confirmed that he would be stepping down at the end of the season after nine years at the club, with Alonso immediately instilled as the favourite to replace him.
Publicly, Alonso has distanced himself from the vacancy. “I was surprised by Jurgen’s news,” said the Spaniard. “I have huge respect for Jurgen and Liverpool. At the moment I am really happy here and enjoying my work. Each day and game is a challenge. We are in an intense and beautiful journey here at Leverkusen.
“Speculation is normal, but I have great respect and admiration for what Jurgen has done at Liverpool in the last nine years, and how he’s done it. He has a connection with the fans, he’s done a great job, but my focus is here at Bayer Leverkusen.
“I have great motivation to do a good job here, I’m very happy with the team, with the club, with everything, so that’s my focus. My focus isn’t on May, it’s on tomorrow ahead of our game against Gladbach and helping my players to be ready. But what I will say is it was surprising what happened at Liverpool with Jurgen leaving.”
There had been reports of a clause within Alonso’s Leverkusen contract that would allow him to be released to Liverpool for a certain fee. That was denied by the German club’s CEO Fernando Carro, but he still cast doubt on their hopes of keeping Alonso if Liverpool come calling.
“No (there is no clause), but you don’t need a clause,” Carro said in November. “We have a very, very good relationship with Xabi and he knows we are a serious club. And at the end of the day, we’re not going to force someone to stay if he doesn’t want to stay. We want him to feel so happy and so good with us that he really only wants to stay and this is our objective.
“There is nothing on paper. But sometimes agreements that are not on paper are agreements as well. We know if he needs to do a move in the future we will be able to talk with each other. And I hope we will not need to do this because he will stay and be happy at Leverkusen.”