Now Playing

Now Playing IconNow Playing:

Evolve Radio

Artist Name

Album Art

Is it advantage Liverpool over Bayern Munich for Alonso?

If there is a defining characteristic of Xabi Alonso, the metronomic player and now assured manager, it is that he is meticulous.

That descriptor was used by his former tactician Jose Mourinho, it is the same framing Granit Xhaka has plumped for, as well as the analysis of Bayer Leverkusen chief executive Fernando Carro.

Alonso doesn’t get swept up, seduced, overcome by pressure, or knocked off his stride. The clubs that most covet him in their dugout know this intimately; Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have all benefitted from that trait when he was scanning and shepherding play in the centre of the pitch.

Alonso’s clarity of mind has been evident in make-or-break moments. It would explain why Rafael Benitez selected him as the designated penalty taker for the 2005 Champions League final – despite the midfielder never having the experience of a professional spot kick.

It speaks to Pep Guardiola referring to him as a player with a coach’s brain and Carlo Ancelotti circling his “very high intelligence”.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp hailed potential successor Alonso as a ‘standout’ manager after his incredible season so far with Bayer Leverkusen

So when it comes to the hottest managerial prospect in football making a decision over his future, there is one certainty: He will be surgical.

Real Madrid will knock in the near future, but Liverpool and Bayern are already jostling at Alonso’s door. Bayer are confident they can persuade the man casually making Bundesliga history to remain at the BayArena.

But if he does twist, which club provides a more compelling and stable project?

Sky Sports News’ Melissa Reddy analyses the situation after speaking to multiple sources in England and Germany.

The case for Liverpool…

The wholesome scenes at Wembley, where the club’s academy kids showed the bravery to burst Chelsea’s billion-pound bubble in the Carabao Cup final, will have emphasised what great health Jurgen Klopp leaves Liverpool in.

The first-team squad, in the mix for three more trophies this season despite a ridiculously long injury list, requires supplements and enhancements rather than any serious surgery.

The key players over 30 – Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah and Endo – have been stellar.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jamie Carragher analyses Bayer Leverkusen’s style of football under Alonso, and predicts how Liverpool would play if he was to succeed Klopp at Anfield

The conveyor belt of young talent is stacked, and the pathway is clear as evidenced throughout the Klopp era.

With time for dialogue and the commitment of the trio, there is no panic over the contract situations of Van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Salah.

The Saudi Pro League will attempt to prise the Egyptian again but all indications are that he wants to continue competing at the highest level.

The direction of travel is clear at Anfield. Alonso wouldn’t just be inheriting one of the strongest squads in Europe, but a special bond between the players and supporters that was neatly showcased in the galvanising rendition of Allez, Allez, Allez during extra-time on Sunday.

The house, harmony, and hope that Klopp has built is formidable and will endure under the right circumstances.

Alonso need not fear mimicking the German as Liverpool do not want a JK 2.0 or a lite version of him.

That does not alter the fact that it is daunting to succeed a man, who more than winning the lot, made people feel and believe through unforgettable shared experiences.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jamie Redknapp believes Bayer Leverkusen’s Alonso should replace Klopp as Liverpool manager at the end of this season

Alonso isn’t someone who lacks surety. That certainly came across during an interview in The Guardian two months ago, when he was asked about his future – specifically the speculation linking him with Real Madrid.

“It depends on if you want to be pushed to take other people’s decisions or if you want to make your own decisions,” Alonso said. “And so far I’ve been clear. I will take my own decisions when I feel it is the right moment for whatever.”

What will help him choose? “A little bit of intuition, a connection with the right moment in the right place.”

Questions over whether a Liverpool team geared to a more direct style of play is suited to Alonso’s possession-based preference ignores the evidence of his ability to adapt and underestimates the bandwidth of players to absorb new ideas.

His due diligence would also point to patience, empowerment, and non-interference from owners Fenway Sports Group.

The one sticking issue is Liverpool are concurrently searching for a sporting director, so Alonso doesn’t have clarity on who will be leading on a recruitment and football operations front.

Liverpool are determined to have an aligned triumvirate of decision-makers. FSG president Mike Gordon wants a solid, honest relationship between himself, the new manager and sporting director as was the case with Klopp and Michael Edwards.

Alonso knows the scale of competitors will be much higher at Liverpool, who cannot offer state-powered tools. He will need to help find the edges, to work within the club’s means.

Xabi Alonso
Image: What does the future hold for Alonso?

It will be harder to win, but for someone who outperformed his resources at both Real Sociedad B and Bayer, perhaps he will feel it is more rewarding.

The Premier League is unforgiving, with both Klopp and Guardiola repeatedly admitting it requires more of your time, energy and intensity than managing elsewhere.

Taking on the all-powerful Manchester City every season is no fun, which he can ask his childhood neighbour and close friend, Mikel Arteta.

Is Alonso equipped for that yet?

The case for Bayern Munich:

Winning is easier at Bayern, but losing leaves you in a critical condition – Julian Nagelsmann had overseen defeat in just three games across all competitions last season before he was sacked.

Thomas Tuchel, exiting in May, has been fortunate to last this long in contrast. Borussia Dortmund lost the title last season more than Bayern won it.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Alonso insists his focus is solely on winning games with Bayer Leverkusen, amid speculation he could join either Bayern Munich or Liverpool in the summer

The German giants are so conditioned to success and regularly extracting the best gifts from their domestic threats, it prompts periods of complacency, but also a divorce from reality.

Bayern believe they should be lifting the European Cup. Failure in that competition is fatal for managers.

Since Klopp took charge at Liverpool, seven different faces have been at Bayern’s helm. There has been chaos at board level, perfectly summarised by previous bosses Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidzic sacking Nagelsmann in March 2023, only to be relieved of their own duties two months later.

The decision to fire Germany’s manager for the Euros was not universally popular within the club, which points at frayed structures.

Bayern’s honorary president Uli Hoeness publicly called it “unwise” and Herbert Hainer, chairman of the supervisory board, was annoyed at the short notice he was given.

Can the new core axis of Christoph Freund, Max Eberl and chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen swerve such division? Club legend Lothar Matthäus has already been very critical.

Alonso will be tuned in to how often the manager’s decisions are berated at Bayern. Tuchel recently complained that the media draw battle lines by favouring members of the squad and bristling when they do not start.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Melissa Reddy discusses the favourite candidates to replace Klopp at the end of the season and why Liverpool will be interested in them

“You are the very first ones to make a complete difference and decide who sits on the bench or is substituted,” he said.

“Then there will be a week’s special broadcast about it. The same incident with another player and it is not discussed at all.”

Tuchel has accepted responsibility for poor performances and results, but reminded he is not the only problem at Bayern; a broadside at both the squad and the hierarchy.

It has been evident over recent years that Bayern insist on a coach with a clear philosophy without ensuring the team meshes with that identity.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Kaveh Solhekol looks at the realistic options for Bayer Leverkusen manager Alonso as he becomes the front-runner for both the Liverpool and Bayern Munich jobs

The spine needs to be rebuilt and the average age of the group reduced. Perhaps the sales pitch is Alonso can construct a side in his image – but does recent history support that?

Real Madrid have reportedly reached a verbal agreement with Alphonso Davies, Joshua Kimmich has been off-colour, leaving the leading lights as Harry Kane and Jamal Musiala.

Bayern will always be Bayern though and domestic dominance is sure to follow again soon. The turnover of coaches illustrates that hasn’t been enough though.

Would Alonso be afforded the time and space to properly work and meet continental expectations?

Stay at Leverkusen?

Alonso is scorching the earth with his beautifully efficient Bayer side – they are the only unbeaten team across all competitions in Europe’s major leagues – so it is easy to forget how early into this project he still is.

The Basque was appointed in October 2022 and there must be slight annoyance on his part at the timing of these mega-big gigs. Next summer offers more breathing room and development space than this one.

Alonso has previously held his nerve. Eberl, now Bayern’s director of sport, had tried to lure the young manager from Real Sociedad B to Borussia Monchengladbach in the early months of 2021.

“He told me, ‘I’m sorry but no thanks, it’s too early. I need more experience,'” Eberl reminded at a media briefing on Tuesday. “It was very impressive.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights from the Bundesliga match between Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen and FSV Mainz 05

Should Alonso serve up the watershed season that is on the cards for Bayer, it’s difficult to envisage how he could improve or build on it.

The apex predators, including Bayern, will be circling to loot talent. The expectation, the pressure, the new normal will be different.

Given what he’s achieved in such a short amount of time, it feels unwise to bet against Alonso. It would be some statement to shun Liverpool and Bayern to continue on his current path.

It is testament to his work that Alonso already finds himself spoilt with such choices.

Sky News
(c) Sky Sports 2024:Source