Amorim Leads as Top Contender After Alonso Rejects Liverpool’s Offer

Liverpool’s dreams of wooing Xabi Alonso back to Anfield were shattered on Friday when the Spaniard decided to stay at Bayer Leverkusen, where he is leading the Bundesliga to its first title.

Alonso, who won the Champions League while at Liverpool, was rapidly established as the frontrunner to succeed Jurgen Klopp after the German announced in January that he would leave at the conclusion of the season.

Ruben Amorim of Sporting Lisbon is the new bookmakers’ favourite, ahead of Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi and Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Alonso’s choice to stay with Leverkusen, who are unbeaten in 38 games across all competitions this season, dashes Liverpool’s hopes that his arrival could lessen the pain of Klopp’s impending exit.

During Klopp’s eight-and-a-half years as manager, the Reds’ fortunes on and off the pitch have changed dramatically.

Liverpool won their first league title in 30 years in 2020, one year after winning the Champions League.

Klopp is about to leave in a blaze of glory.

With 10 games remaining, Liverpool trails Premier League leaders Arsenal by a goal difference.

They also won the League Cup last month and might face Alonso’s Leverkusen in the Europa League final, with both teams reaching the last eight.

‘Good moment to be with LFC’

Klopp believes he is passing the baton at the right time, with a group full of young talent bolstered by a core of world-class veterans in Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk, and Mohamed Salah.

“For the future it is important how good is the team, how good are the players, how good is the structure and how good is the organisation,” Klopp said earlier this month.

“That’s where my optimism comes from and that’s why I think it’s a rather good moment to be with LFC.”

However, following in the footsteps of a figure of such legendary reputation may have been one of the considerations that discouraged Alonso from making the leap.

According to reports, his snub will pave the way for Amorim of Sporting.

At only 39 years old, the former Portugal international has already established himself in his own country.

Amorim’s first job was with Braga in 2019, where he lasted little over two months and 13 games until Sporting fulfilled his 10 million euro ($11 million) release clause and took over the Lisbon giants.

That belief in his abilities was rewarded as he won the first league title in 19 years in his first season in command, in 2020/21.

Sporting has only finished second and fourth in the last two years, but they are on track for a league and cup double this season.

De Zerbi has an excellent opportunity to make his case and sour Klopp’s farewell when Brighton visits Anfield on Sunday.

The Italian’s debut game in English football was a dramatic 3-3 draw away to Liverpool and Brighton, followed by victories over Klopp’s side in the Premier League and FA Cup at home last season.

However, De Zerbi has struggled to maintain the same standards this season due to the pressures of managing the club’s first journey into Europe with the rigours of contending in the Premier League’s top tier.

Nagelsmann was previously seen as a rising talent in European coaching, having impressed at Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig.

An unsuccessful tenure at Bayern Munich knocked him back, but he may rehabilitate his name with Germany at a home European Championship.

Following a rocky start to his tenure as national team coach, friendly triumphs over France and the Netherlands have given the German public hope for a memorable summer.

However, Nagelsmann’s participation in the tournament may have a negative impact on his chances of landing the Anfield job.

Liverpool’s first pre-season friendly against Arsenal will take place just over two weeks after the Euro final.

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