Forget Xabi Alonso – Liverpool’s ideal Jurgen Klopp successor is staring them right in the face

Forget Xabi Alonso – Liverpool’s ideal Jurgen Klopp successor is staring them right in the face

The Reds are on the lookout for their next permanent manager following Jurgen Klopp’s announcement that he plans to leave Anfield at the end of the season.

How do you begin to go about replacing Jurgen Klopp, a man who has returned Liverpool to their once former glory, who has reignited and unified the passions of a true English colossus, and whose inevitable statue outside of Anfield will be deserving of a quarry’s worth of the finest Italian marble to capture the brilliance of his beaming grin alone?

I suppose the answer is that you cannot. As Manchester United discovered to their peril upon the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, simply going out and finding a cosplaying knock-off is no guarantee of continued success. Klopp has rebuilt Liverpool in his image over the past nine years, and whoever his successor is, they must surely do the same in kind.Already two prospective names have emerged at the forefront of the speculative pack. Former Red and current Bayer Leverkusen wunderkind Xabi Alonso is an obvious choice given both his connections to Merseyside and the transformational job that he is presently enacting in North Rhine-Westphalia; his Bundesliga leaders are still yet to lose a game in any competition this season, and are peddling a brand of football that feels as if it has been lifted directly from the imbalanced coding of a video game.

The other option, according to the bookmakers, is Roberto de Zerbi. When Graham Potter left Brighton and Hove Albion to drink from Chelsea’s poisoned chalice, there were concerns that whoever replaced him on the south coast would struggle to replicate his stellar work. There is a strong argument to be made that the Italian has surpassed him entirely.

Like Alonso, De Zerbi has garnered a reputation for a tactical approach that is both intricate and aesthetically-pleasing, but it is not beauty for beauty’s sake. Brighton, though flawed, play with purpose and precision, and even though the relative thinness of their squad and an occasional lack of a consistent goal threat has hampered them to an extent in recent seasons, they continue to be one of the most impressive sides in the Premier League. De Zerbi has to take a significant amount of credit for that.

Of course, the blockbuster appointment would be Alonso – the cult hero of the Kop on a career trajectory that threatens to catapult him into the heavens at any given moment. But given his experience in the English game, and that extent to which he has proven himself in spite of the relative modesty of his surroundings, you could certainly make a case for De Zerbi being the man Liverpool should pursue.