Jurgen Klopp praises Xabi Alonso as 'standout' of new generation of managers

Bayer Leverkusen coach and former Liverpool player has been tipped to be next Anfield boss

Bayer Leverkusen's head coach Xabi Alonso has been linked with managerial jobs at Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in recent weeks. AP
Powered by automated translation

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has praised Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso as the "standout" among a new generation of football coaches.

Alonso is the strong favourite to take over at Anfield with Klopp set to leave the club at the end of the season.

The 42-year-old's Bayer Leverkusen team sit top of the Bundesliga, five points clear of perennial champions Bayern Munich, who they swept aside 3-0 last weekend.

"Xabi is doing an incredible job," said Klopp ahead of Liverpool's game against Brentford on Saturday.

"The football he is playing, the teams he sets up, the transfers he did, it is absolutely exceptional."

As a player, midfielder Alonso spent five seasons with Liverpool between 2004 and 2009, making 210 appearances for the club. He scored as Liverpool beat AC Milan to win the Champions League in 2005 and also won the FA Cup, Uefa Super Cup and Community Shield before moving to Real Madrid and then Bayern.

Alonso took over at Leverkusen in 2022 and has overseen a steady improvement in results. They are unbeaten in all competitions this season, with them having reached the DFB Pokal semi-finals and the last 16 of the Europa League on top of their outstanding Bundesliga performance.

Leverkusen's form has also led to the Spaniard being linked with the manager's job at both Bayern and Real Madrid.

"How quick his team is that well tuned, for the time it's taken, he's put his proper stamp on it," added Klopp. "The next generation is already there and I would say Xabi is a standout in that department.

"He is a former world-class player, from a coaching family as well, which helps a little, he was like a coach already when he was playing.

"If you would have asked me eight weeks ago about Xabi Alonso, I would have gone 'Oh my God!' Always what I said.

"The 'dinosaurs' if you want, [Carlo] Ancelotti, [Jose] Mourinho, [Pep] Guardiola, maybe me, we will not [manage] for the next 20 years. OK, maybe Mourinho will do it - but all the rest will not."

Klopp, 56, is set to end his nine-year stay as Liverpool boss having said he no longer has the energy for the role. As well as Alonso, the Reds have been linked with Brighton coach Roberto De Zerbi and German national team boss Julian Nagelsmann.

Updated: February 17, 2024, 10:37 AM