Xabi Alonso IS the frontrunner to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool as Anfield chiefs step up their search for a new manager… with Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi also at the top of their shortlist

  • Xabi Alonso, a former Liverpool player, has Bayer Leverkusen at the top of the Bundesliga
  • Liverpool are stepping up their search to replace Klopp following his announcement
  • DOMINIC KING: People will say ‘you’re soppy Scousers who go over the top’ but they can’t fathom what this man was – the modern Bill Shankly – It kicks everything off

Xabi Alonso is the frontrunner to take over from the departure of Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool this summer with the search for a successor underway, although the Reds are in no rush to make a decision and plenty of options with a thorough recruitment process will assess.

Klopp, 56, dropped the bombshell news on Friday morning that he intends to leave the Anfield club after eight-and-a-half years at the helm, insisting ‘we’re not young bunnies anymore and we’re not jumping that high’ like us not’ .

The German informed Fenway Sports Group chief owner Mike Gordon over the phone in November and insisted there was nothing that would change his mind. Gordon, and others in the tight-knit group of those who keep football’s best-kept secret, then planned the next steps.

Liverpool have a shortlist of targets, but it is understood they did not want to directly approach targets, or their effects, until the news of Klopp’s departure broke, as it could be seen as going behind the current manager’s back. .

Xabi Alonso is the frontrunner to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool as he is doing an excellent job at Bayer Leverkusen

Xabi Alonso is the frontrunner to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool as he is doing an excellent job at Bayer Leverkusen

Klopp announced yesterday that he will step down as Liverpool boss at the end of the season

Klopp announced yesterday that he will step down as Liverpool boss at the end of the season

But the Reds will now step up the hunt, with Bayer Leverkusen boss Alonso sure to be near the top of their list, along with Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi. Other names mentioned will be Tottenham’s Ange Postecoglou, Germany boss Julian Nagelsmann and Brentford’s Thomas Frank.

Klopp’s right-hand man, Pep Lijnders, has long been touted as a potential successor, but he will also leave the club, along with Peter Krawietz and Vitor Matos. Fitness guru Andreas Kornmayer and goalkeeper coach John Achterberg have not left, but face an uncertain future.

Sources in Germany suggest that Alonso has an unwritten agreement with Leverkusen chiefs that they will not stand in his way if one of Europe’s elite clubs approaches him this summer. The former Liverpool midfielder has Leverkusen at the top of the Bundesliga ahead of Bayern Munich.

Real Madrid have long been admirers of Alonso, but boss Carlo Ancelotti signed a new deal in the Spanish capital last month which could give Liverpool a clearer path to the Leverkusen coach. The last non-Bayern manager to win the Bundesliga was, of course, Klopp.

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s captain, Virgil van Dijk, yesterday became the first Reds player to break their silence on the shocking news of Klopp’s departure. “It’s a tough one to take because the manager means so much to us, to me, to the club, to the whole Premier League,” he said.

Alonso has an unwritten rule that he can leave Leverkusen at the end of the season for an elite job, according to German sources

Alonso has an unwritten rule that he can leave Leverkusen at the end of the season for an elite job, according to German sources

Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi is also near the top of Liverpool's list of managerial targets

Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi is also near the top of Liverpool’s list of managerial targets

‘But he made the decision for himself and his family. It was always going to be a tough one and it certainly was. We all want to achieve so much and that mindset has been there since pre-season and it’s not changing.

‘It might even give you an extra boost to do it and make the last bit of the manager’s time at the club the best he’s ever had. Let’s make the rest of the season a special one so he can have the farewell he definitely deserves.’