Seven months after being appointed manager of Bayer Leverkusen, Xabi Alonso is now a target for Tottenham, as one of three young candidates.
Alonso has taken a steady approach to his coaching career so far, beginning in the Real Madrid youth ranks before taking over at Real Socieded B.
In March, he even extended his stay with his boyhood club amid interest from Borussia Monchengladbach, but when the Leverkusen job became available in October, he took the step into senior management.
The 41-year-old has been a revelation since then.
His record stands at 17 wins, seven draws and seven losses in 31 games, with Leverkusen now unbeaten in their last 14 games in all competitions.
That has led the club – who were 17th when he took over – to sixth in the Bundesliga and into the semi-finals of the Europa League, where they will take on AS Roma.
According to Sky Sports, that has sparked interest from Tottenham, who have made Alonso a target as successor to Antonio Conte.
Vincent Kompany and Julian Nagelsmann are also in the frame for the job, with Liverpool’s old No. 14, incredibly, the oldest of the three.
Whether Alonso is the leading candidate or whether he would even accept the job at Tottenham remains to be seen, with it clear he won’t rush into the wrong role.
But interest from north London is a testament to the excellent progress he has already made since beginning his life as a head coach in San Sebastian in 2019.
Alonso typically employs a 3-4-3 shape at Leverkusen – coincidentally, similar to that used by Jurgen Klopp in recent games – with his side in free-scoring form of late.
During their current 14-game unbeaten run, Leverkusen have scored 29 goals and conceded only 11, with the burden shared throughout the squad.
Winger Moussa Diaby (13), right-back Jeremie Frimpong (seven) and striker Adam Hlozek (six) have all contributed regularly, with Diaby, Frimpong and attacking midfielder Florian Wirtz tied for the most assists (eight each).
Tottenham are not the first Premier League club to show interest in Alonso, with the Guardian‘s Jacob Steinberg claiming in April that Chelsea had considered the Spaniard for their vacant role.