With Xabi Alonso considered the early front-runner for Liverpool when Jurgen Klopp leaves in the summer, fellow candidate Roberto De Zerbi has praised his work.
While Fenway Sports Group are not expected to confirm Klopp’s successor any time soon, the news of his upcoming departure has prompted major speculation.
The details of the search for his replacement are not known to journalists, but Alonso and De Zerbi have been widely touted as among the leading contenders.
Thomas Frank, Julian Nagelsmann, Ruben Amorim and Ange Postecoglou have also been named as possibilities, though it is the Bayer Leverkusen manager who is favourite to take over.
It was interesting, therefore, when De Zerbi was asked for his opinion on Alonso’s progress at Leverkusen in an interview with Cronache Di Spogliatoio this week.
“His team plays so well. The style is well-defined.
“He was already good when coaching Real Sociedad’s second team three years ago and he is proving the same in a great club like Bayer Leverkusen.”
De Zerbi is a similarly convincing candidate, however, having excelled since his appointment as Brighton manager in 2022 – though it is hard to escape the feeling that none of those considered are as established as Klopp was almost nine years ago.
In his interview, De Zerbi was asked whether he is looking to join a big club in the near future, with his response suggesting he is open to leaving Brighton for the right opportunity.
“I will certainly want to go to great team. It is certainly an ambition of mine to get there,” he said.
“I could have gone [to one] already a few years ago. I don’t think, at the time, the conditions were right to go – at least, the conditions that I would have wanted.
“However it will happen, if we continue with the results, if I continue to demonstrate that I am capable, I believe that it will be possible to arrive.”
He added: “If I’m putting my butt on an important bench, the goal is to put my butt here and to try to do things right.
“Not just to say I coached [a big team], that is not my interest.”