Xabi Alonso plays down Liverpool managerial link after Klopp announces he is leaving

Ray Houghton admits replacing German is ‘going to be one hell of a pair of shoes to fill’

Bayer Leverkusen head coach Xabi Alonso is not thinking about the possibility of becoming the next Liverpool manager, insisting he is in the “right place” in Germany.

The former Reds midfielder is one of the early front-runners to replace Jurgen Klopp at Anfield after the German’s bombshell announcement on Friday that he will be leaving the club at the end of the season.

Alonso, who enjoyed great success with Liverpool as a player and said “once a Red, always a Red”, is earning himself a reputation as one of the top coaches in Europe after guiding Leverkusen to a four-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga.

However, the Spaniard is not thinking about his future amid immediate speculation linking him to the job.


“Speculation is normal. My focus is here in Leverkusen,” he told a press conference ahead of his side’s Bundesliga match with Borussia Monchengladbach.

“First of all, it was a huge surprise. I have huge respect for Jurgen, huge admiration for what he has achieved and the way he has achieved it.

“At the moment I’m really happy here. I’m enjoying my work here, I’m feeling that each day is a challenge, each game is a challenge.

“We are in an intense and beautiful journey here in Leverkusen and I’m trying to give my best to help my players be ready for the next thing and that is my goal.

“What is coming next, I don’t know. I’m not in that moment to think about the next step. I’m thinking about right now and I think I’m in a great place and I’m enjoying it.

“I think it is the right place and that is all I can say. What is going to happen in the future I don’t know and I don’t really care, to be honest.”

Alonso played over 200 times for the Reds between 2004 and 2009, winning the Champions League and the FA Cup before joining Real Madrid.

Elsewhere, former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher hopes Jürgen Klopp can “go out with a bang” after the German manager announced he will leave the club at the end of the season.

The 56-year-old has admitted he is “running out of energy” having led the club to six major trophies since taking charge in October 2015.

Carragher, who made 737 appearances for the Reds, posted on X, formerly Twitter: “This news was always going to be a body blow to the club whenever it came.

“I just thought it would be another few years away. What a manager, what a man, let’s go out with a bang Jurgen!”

Former Liverpool midfielder Ray Houghton said Klopp’s Anfield achievements were “phenomenal”.

“There was no sign whatsoever that he was going to make the decision that he’s made and obviously, it’s absolutely huge. What he’s done for this club and his time being in charge, nothing short of phenomenal,” Houghton told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“To get them back winning the league, getting them to major finals, getting that pride back in the football club, the joy of playing for Liverpool. It’s been absolutely incredible and the football they’ve played has been a joy to watch. It’s going to be one hell of a pair of shoes to fill.”