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Jurgen Klopp replacement: Next Liverpool manager candidates including Alonso, Ljinders and Gerrard

Jurgen Klopp stunned the football world by announcing he will leave Liverpool at the end of this season on January 26, 2024.

Over more than eight years in the Anfield hot seat, having joined after Brendan Rodgers’ departure in October 2015, Klopp has returned Liverpool to their position as one of the on-field powerhouses in English and European football.

His crowning achievement was ending Liverpool’s 30-year wait for a 19th English title in 2019/20 and the Reds also broke through the 90-point barrier in 2018/19 and 2021/22, only to be pipped by Pep Guardiola’s formidable Manchester City.

Klopp also led Liverpool to their sixth European title, beating Tottenham 2-0 in the 2019 Champions League final. They also lost in the showpiece against Real Madrid in 2018 and 2022, although the latter year also featured success in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup — two trophies Premier League leaders Liverpool could still win this season.

It represents a stunning body of work and adds up to an imposing task for any potential successor. As Manchester United and Arsenal have shown in the wake of the departures of Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, following a manager of such stature is fraught with difficulty.

Nevertheless, here are some of the intrepid frontrunners who are being tipped to become the next Liverpool manager.

MORE: Why is Jurgen Klopp leaving Liverpool? Reasons for exit

Jurgen Klopp replacement: Next Liverpool manager candidates

Below are some of the leading early contenders to become Liverpool’s next manager. The Sporting News will update this page should new favourites enter the picture.

Xabi Alonso

Former Spain and Real Madrid midfielder Alonso was a crowd favourite during his five years at Anfield under Rafael Benitez. Alonso is now arguably the most highly touted young coach in Europe, having led Bayer Leverkusen to the top of the Bundesliga ahead of the mighty Bayern Munich, going unbeaten through the first 27 matches in all competitions in 2023/24.

Slaying Bayern would amount to taking a page out of the Klopp playbook from the latter’s time in charge of Borussia Dortmund. It feels like Alonso should be the man who Liverpool make their immediate priority.

Pep Lijnders

One of the main reasons for the shock behind Klopp’s incredible announcement is Liverpool’s current form. As of January 26, the Red were five points clear at the top of the Premier League, playing their best football of the season and enjoying the fruits of a summer midfield refit that featured the additions of standout players Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai.

If you wanted a continuity candidate to oversee this new team’s next stage of development, then perhaps it would be better to look no further than Klopp’s longtime No. 2 Lijnders. Liverpool’s statement on Klopp’s departure said the Dutchman would also leave his position as assistant “to pursue his own career in management”. Who says that can’t be at Anfield?

Ange Postecoglou

One of the teams who could still have a say on whether or not Klopp departs with a second Premier League title are Postecoglou’s freewheeling Tottenham. The Australian tactician’s instant impact in north London — playing attractive, forward-thinking football and tapping into fan sentiment — has echoes of Klopp’s early days on Merseyside.

His decorated stint in charge of Celtic also showed he is capable of leading a fabled institution where the weight of history can simultaneously be a blessing and a curse. Additionally, Postecoglou was also a boyhood Liverpool fan, even though he sought to play down the relevance of this before facing the Reds earlier this season.

“Look, I used to love Happy Days back then, too, but I don’t have pictures of the Fonz on my wall today, either,” he quipped.

Ange Postecoglou

Roberto De Zerbi

De Zerbi is a man linked with every big job that comes around nowadays, something that is very much a testament to the phenomenal job the Italian has done at Brighton & Hove Albion. In terms of tacticians pushing the boundaries of what is possible for an attacking football team, there are few better out there right now.

It could be suggested that De Zerbi’s tendency to play “in the red” all the time makes him ill-suited to a post where trophies are expected. Klopp came through similar doubts early on at Liverpool but, of course, had a recent history of winning league titles at Dortmund to back up his methods. Additionally, much like Postecoglou, De Zerbi perhaps feels like more of a fit to succeed Pep Guardiola if he leaves at the end of his current Manchester City contract in 2025.

MORE: How many trophies has Jurgen Klopp won? All titles, finals lost

Steven Gerrard

After winning the Scottish Premiership with Rangers in 2020/21, Gerrard looked like the anointed heir to Klopp, who himself had experienced a tough behind-closed-doors season and a limp title defence. But the former England midfielder then failed at Aston Villa — a job that looks worse the more Unai Emery succeeds with largely the same squad — and departed to Al Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia, where he has at least stuck things out a little longer than Jordan Henderson.

Anfield’s favourite son returning as manager feels fanciful right now, but it could be a sort of pragmatic choice. History suggests the manager following one as successful and loved as Klopp is effectively doomed, so why not hand that particular poisoned chalice to a man widely viewed as Liverpool’s best-ever player, navigate some choppy waters, and then hand over the reins to a truly elite coach?

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