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Next Liverpool boss: Xabi Alonso, Roberto De Zerbi, Jose Mourinho & the top seven candidates to replace Jurgen Klopp after shock exit announcement

Next Liverpool boss: Xabi Alonso, Roberto De Zerbi, Jose Mourinho

Liverpool are looking for a new manager! Friday’s shock announcement confirmed that Jurgen Klopp is stepping down from his position at the end of the season, with the Reds board likely to be moving at speed to find his replacement.

The likes of Xabi Alonso, Roberto De Zerbi and Steven Gerrard will all be linked with taking over, with Bayer Leverkusen head coach Alonso undoubtedly the favourite, given the impressive start to his managerial career and his strong ties to Liverpool from his playing days.

Whoever steps in will have the unenviable task of trying to keep the Reds in the hunt for major honours, with Klopp having been a transformative presence since he was hired at Anfield back in 2015, winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League during an incredible decade of success for the club.

Xabi Alonso

Unquestionably the strongest candidate out there, both a romantic option and a quality one. The Basque was a crucial part of Liverpool’s rebirth in the mid-2000s, adding class and power to their midfield, scoring two goals from the halfway line and being the engine of Rafael Benitez’s side that won the 2005 Champions League. His career path was the perfect apprenticeship for a budding manager, working under Benitez, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola, and he took the long route, learning his trade with the reserve side of his boyhood club Real Sociedad before taking charge of Bayer Leverkusen last year.

And he has done an exceptional job, taking a team that rarely competed for the top four to the top of the Bundesliga, sitting four points clear of Bayern Munich and still remaining unbeaten after 18 matches. Becoming the first manager to break the Bavarians’ 11-year stranglehold on the German title would further cement his credentials to take over at Anfield but even if Leverkusen eventually lose out, he is still the No.1 choice. The trouble is, Real Madrid may also have their sights on him too.

Roberto De Zerbi

The Italian has been a revelation at Brighton, with his brand of attacking football and impressive recruitment seeing the Seagulls qualify for the Europa League last season and emerge as genuine contenders for a Champions League spot – now and in the future. He’d clearly represent a shrewd appointment if Liverpool were able to get hold of him.

Steven Gerrard

How could we compile of list of potential Klopp replacements without mentioning Gerrard? Liverpool’s influential former captain was being touted as the most likely to take over during his high points in charge of Rangers and then Aston Villa, although his managerial career has nosedived since then, with the Reds icon struggling somewhat at Al-Ettifaq. A move to back to Liverpool right now, as much as it would undoubtedly be part of Gerrard’s ideal career plan, doesn’t look likely, especially as he’s just signed a mega new contract to remain in Saudi Arabia until at least 2027.

Graham Potter

Out of work and looking for his next big job, Potter would likely jump at the chance to step in at Anfield and take over from Klopp at the end of the season. He remains the favourite to replace Erik ten Hag at Manchester United and that move still seems more likely to happen than him rocking up on Merseyside. Indeed, Liverpool are likely to have been put off by the ex-Brighton manager’s record at Chelsea, where he was sacked last season after just six months.

Julian Nagelsmann

Nagelsmann may be looking for a return to club management soon, with the 36-year-old having taken over the Germany national team soon after he was harshly, and somewhat brutally, sacked by Bayern Munich to make way for Thomas Tuchel. His contract with Germany is only in place until July, after Euro 2024, and that could represent an opportunity to head to the Premier League, if Liverpool want him to be their man to replace Klopp.

Jose Mourinho

They couldn’t, could they? Mourinho is back on the managerial market after he was sacked by Roma, and the Liverpool job is undoubtedly one that would appeal to the former Manchester United and Chelsea boss. The Portuguese would likely not be a popular choice among the majority of the club’s fanbase and there remain question marks over his ability to deliver at the very highest level, despite the mountain of success that marked the earlier years of his managerial career.

Zinedine Zidane

The Frenchman, an icon from his playing days, has enjoyed considerable success as a manager too, leading Real Madrid to two La Liga titles and three Champions League wins during two spells with the Spanish giants. The big question mark remains over his availability, however, with Zidane having previously ruled himself out of taking over at Manchester United before Ten Hag’s appointment, while all the signs point to him replacing Didier Deschamps as France head coach after Euro 2024.

The other possible candidates

Others potentially in the frame include Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone, who has worked wonders with the Liga club over the years, famously breaking up the established order of Real Madrid and Barcelona as he steered Atleti to the title on two occasions, in 2014 and 2021, as well as winning the Copa del Rey and Europa League, twice.

Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou and PSG manager Luis Enrique are clearly outsiders to take over, while Antonio Conte, who is currently out of work after a disappointing spell in charge of Spurs, is another who may well be linked with the top job at Anfield. Klopp’s trusted assistant, Pep Lijnders, won’t be considered for the role, however, with his exit having already been confirmed alongside the German boss when the 2023-24 season draws to a close.