Ex-Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso is the early bookmakers’ favourite to succeed Jurgen Klopp; Alonso is impressing in charge at Bayer Leverkusen with the club top of the Bundesliga; Alonso on Liverpool speculation: “I am really happy here… what will come next, I don’t know”
Xabi Alonso says he is not thinking about the next step in his career after he was asked if the Liverpool role would interest him
Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso says he is “really happy” at Bayer Leverkusen and is not thinking about his future after being installed by the bookmakers as the favourite to succeed Jurgen Klopp.
The Spaniard, who won the Champions League at Liverpool in a five-year playing spell at Anfield, has emerged as the early frontrunner to replace Klopp at the end of the season after his shock decision to leave.
Alonso is considered to be one of the hottest coaching properties in the world after leading Bayer Leverkusen to the top of the Bundesliga, with his side unbeaten after 18 games and sitting four points above reigning champions Bayern Munich.
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Reports in October claimed the 42-year-old has a clause in his contract which would allow him to return to Liverpool this summer, as well as his former European heavyweight clubs Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
But Alonso, whose Leverkusen contract runs until 2026, insists he is only focused on the job at the BayArena amid speculation he could be Klopp’s successor.
Asked whether the Liverpool job would appeal to him, he replied: “First of all it was a surprise [Klopp stepping down] but as well I have huge respect for Jurgen. Huge admiration before coming to Liverpool and during his years it has grown bigger, what he has achieved and the way he has achieved it.
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“At the moment, I am really happy here and enjoying my work here. I’m feeling each day and each game is a challenge and we are in an intense but beautiful journey here in Leverkusen and I am trying to give my best to help my players be ready for the next thing, and that’s my goal.
“What will come next, I don’t know.”
He added; “I was very surprised [by Klopp’s exit]. My focus is Leverkusen. At the moment I am really happy here. I still have a big motivation and I am very happy with the club and the team.”
Image: Bayer Leverkusen boss Alonso is the bookmakers' favourite to succeed Klopp at Liverpool
Alonso began his coaching career with Real Madrid’s youth team before being appointed Real Sociedad B boss in 2019.
He guided the club to promotion in his second season in charge, but left the following season with relegation guaranteed with a game to spare.
The ex-Bayern Munich man is now enjoying an impressive tenure at Leverkusen and is fighting on three fronts this season as the club chase Bundesliga, German Cup and Europa League glory.
Questioned on pacing his managerial career amid the Liverpool rumours, he responded: “To be honest I’m not in that moment to think about the next step.
“I’m thinking about where I am right now and I think that I’m in a great place and I am enjoying [it]. I think it’s the right place, so that’s all I can say.
“I don’t know about the pace; my pace is what’s going to be the pace of the team on Saturday because that’s what really matters and I’m going to be happy when we are playing well and we deserve to win.
“What’s going to happen in the future I don’t know and I don’t really care at the moment.”
De Zerbi: My focus is on Brighton
Roberto De Zerbi was asked about being one of the favourites to replace Klopp and insisted his focus remains on finishing the season with Brighton
Meanwhile, Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi, 44, the early second favourite with the bookmakers behind Alonso to replace Klopp at Anfield next season, has been giving his reaction to the German’s announcement.
“You need energy,” said the Italian in his pre-match press conference.
“You have to push every day. You have to keep behaviour to improve every day. You can’t stop your improvement and studying the game and new coaches, development.
“If you don’t work with the right energy you lose everything. I like him because of his energy, character… are great. If he changes country or league it is not a good thing.”
De Zerbi, who is contracted to Brighton until the summer of 2026, added there were no updates regarding extending his deal on the south coast.
“There is no news about my contract, but my focus is just on the last part of the season,” he added.