Liverpool will reportedly face fierce competition from Barcelona for Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso in the summer. The Spaniard is the strong favourite to replace Jurgen Klopp at Anfield but is also wanted by several other high-profile European clubs, including AC Milan and now also Barca.
It is claimed that Barca are scouring Germany for their next head coach, with Xavi Hernandez announcing that he, like Klopp, will step down at the end of the season. Alonso is considered ‘very popular’ among the Barca board.
Hansi Flick, Thomas Tuchel, Julian Nagelsmann and Klopp himself have also reportedly been discussed among key figures at the Nou Camp. Alonso, though, is considered the ‘dream’ appointment, Spanish publication Sport claim.
The former midfielder has guided Bayer Leverkusen to the top of the Bundesliga without losing a game. His side comprehensively defeated serial champions Bayern Munich 3-0 on Saturday night to take control of the title race. It was the performance of a team who are exceptionally well coached.
Links with La Liga giants Barca are not without merit. Alonso’s father, Periko, made over 50 league appearances for the club in the 1980s. Alonso spent some of his formative years in Catalonia during his father’s playing career.
Alonso played for Barca’s arch-rivals Real Madrid. The report claims the Catalans think they would be getting one over Los Blancos by appointing the former midfielder, who has been tipped to manage at the Bernabeu one day.
Alonso might be more enticed by the Liverpool job because of financial issues being experienced by Barca.
The 42-year-old has been strongly linked with a return to Anfield, where he made 210 appearances between 2004 and 2010. He became a fans’ favourite and scored in the triumphant 2005 Champions League final.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, are unlikely to be looking for a new manager any time soon with Carlo Ancelotti overcoming a difficult start to the season and signing a new long-term contract. Los Blancos are five points clear at the top of La Liga after a 4-0 thumping of surprise title challengers Girona.
Meanwhile, Alonso’s counter-pressing system harbours a resemblance to Klopp’s renowned preferred style of football and makes him the favourite to replace the German. Speaking after defeating Bayern, Alonso opened up on his tactical style.
“The first thing that comes to mind is not being so dominant with the ball, but to be dominant without the ball,” he explained to ESPN.
“I think that without the ball, we have been able to control the spaces. For sure, the first goal was really important but the conviction and the determination of the players is what comes to my mind first.”