Liverpool’s hopes of luring Xabi Alonso back to Anfield in the summer as Jurgen Klopp’s successor could be boosted by a rumoured clause in his Bayer Leverkusen contract.
On Friday morning, Klopp made the shock announcement that he would be stepping down as manager of the Merseysiders at the end of the current campaign.
The 56-year-old has enjoyed eight-and-a-half trophy-laden years at Anfield but has cited a lack of energy behind his decision to part ways.
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A number of names have already been linked with replacing Klopp, from Julian Nagelsmann to ex-Chelsea boss Graham Potter, but former fan favourite Alonso appears to be the clear frontrunner.
The Spaniard, who spent five years at Liverpool as a player between 2004 and 2009 before joining Real Madrid, is making a name for himself as a coach and currently has Leverkusen top of the Bundesliga table.
Not only are they four points clear of Bayern Munich, but they are still unbeaten and also boast a 100 per cent record in the Europa League – where they could eventually meet Liverpool later in the competition.
On the face of it, Liverpool would have a very difficult task in prising Alonso away from Leverkusen, but German publication BILD have previously reported that there is a clause in his contract which would allow him to join the club.
The 42-year-old, who is contracted to the German side until 2026, is believed to have negotiated an arrangement which will let him join any of the three European heavyweights he played for during his career.
Alonso represented Liverpool, Real and Bayern and the clause allows him to join any of that trio from next summer onwards – just in time for when Klopp steps down.
That does not mean the Reds will get a free run at Alonso, though, with Real also eyeing their former midfielder as a long-term successor to Carlo Ancelotti while there have been significant question marks over Thomas Tuchel at Bayern.
Leverkusen chief executive Fernando Carro has previously denied the existence of the clause, however, saying in November: ‘No, but you don’t need a clause. We have a very, very good relationship with Xabi and he knows we are a serious club.
‘And at the end of the day, we’re not going to force someone to stay if he doesn’t want to stay. We want him to feel so happy and so good with us that he really only wants to stay – and this is our objective.
‘There is nothing on paper [that would allow Alonso to leave for a former club]. But sometimes agreements that are not on paper are agreements as well. We know if he needs to do a move in the future we will be able to talk with each other. And I hope he will not need to do this because he will stay and be happy at Leverkusen.’
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