Rafael Benitez claims he knows the reason Jurgen Klopp is leaving Liverpool | Football

Ex-Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has hailed Jurgen Klopp’s ‘enormous job’ (Picture: Getty)

Rafael Benitez claims he understands the reason Jurgen Klopp has decided to step down as Liverpool manager and only has ‘positive words’ to say about the ‘enormous job’ he has done at Anfield.

Last Friday, Klopp sent shockwaves around the footballing landscape as he announced his impending departure in an interview with Liverpool’s official website, citing a lack of ‘energy’ after eight-and-a-half trophy-laden years on Merseyside.

The 56-year-old former Borussia Dortmund boss will no doubt be desperate to bow out on a high in the summer, with the Reds currently sitting five points clear at the top of the Premier League table and fighting for silverware in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

Liverpool’s hierarchy have already begun drawing up plans for the future and Xabi Alonso – a hero of Istanbul back in 2005 – is the bookmakers’ favourite to take over the reins from Klopp after a phenomenal start to life in management at Bayer Leverkusen.

The likes of Roberto De Zerbi, Julian Nagelsmann, Zinedine Zidane and Steven Gerrard are also being linked with the position, with Klopp leaving gigantic shoes to fill at the end of the campiagn.

At his press conference on Monday, Celta Vigo boss Benitez – who won four trophies in charge of Liverpool between 2004 and 2010 – was full of praise for his ‘friend’ Klopp and hinted there could more more to the story than the German let on.

‘I have an advantage which is that I have people in Liverpool and also people at the club, so more or less I know how it has happened,’ Benitez told reporters.

Jurgen Klopp looks on during Liverpool match

The German will step down as manager at the end of the season (Picture: Getty)

‘I only have positive words about Klopp because he is my friend and I have a good relationship with him.

‘He has done and is doing an enormous job. Everything I can say about Klopp and Liverpool is positive.

‘I know something else from inside, and it has more merit than being there.’

Benitez lifted the Champions League trophy with Liverpool in 2005 (Picture: Getty)

Benitez credited Klopp for giving Liverpool ample time to find a suitable replacement ahead of the 2024/25 campaign.

‘He goes and speaks up, giving the club time to re-organise which, from another perspective, is also very German because they do notify in advance so it’s not a shock,’ the Spaniard added.

‘Let’s hope Liverpool will do well for now and when another coach comes too. I hope the best for the club.’

In the wake of Klopp’s bombshell announcement, titan Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk raised doubts over his own long-term future at the club.

Asked whether he could envisage being part of the post-Klopp era at Liverpool, the Dutchman said: ‘That’s a big question. Well, I don’t know.

‘The club will have a big job on their hands. That is well known.

‘To replace the manager and replace not only the manager, the staff is leaving, and there are so many things that will change.

‘So the club has a big job on its hands and I am very curious which direction that will go in.

‘But when that will be announced we will see our situation. I can’t say much about it.’

MORE : Paul Merson makes huge Arsenal title prediction ahead of Nottingham Forest and Liverpool clashes

MORE : ‘I consider him my dad’ – Ex-Liverpool star Naby Keita reveals his emotional reaction to Jurgen Klopp’s exit bombshell

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