The candidate believed to be Jurgen Klopp’s successor might facilitate the transfer of some of Bayer Leverkusen’s top talents to Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s imminent departure from Liverpool by the conclusion of the 2023/24 season has spurred speculation among those at Anfield regarding his potential replacement. Amid the anticipation, several names will likely surface as potential candidates until a final decision is reached. Presently, the frontrunner for the position is reportedly Xabi Alonso, touted as an “outstanding candidate.”
The incumbent Bayer Leverkusen manager has enjoyed a remarkable season thus far, with his team demonstrating the potential to clinch their first Bundesliga title. Furthermore, his five-year tenure as a player with the Reds, during which he secured both the Champions League and FA Cup, amplifies his appeal as a potential successor to Klopp.
Given these circumstances, if Alonso were to make his way to England next summer, Newsnow Liverpool has opted to envision his ideal squad – incorporating existing Liverpool players alongside select talents from Bayer Leverkusen for the Premier League venture.
The Reds boast a wealth of talent in their central defensive positions, with options including Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip, and Joe Gomez. Despite their quality, injury concerns have plagued each of them in the past. Therefore, Alonso may consider reinforcing this area of the pitch to provide greater depth.
Jonathan Tah has been a stalwart for Leverkusen, accumulating over 300 appearances for the club. As a 21-cap Germany international, he brings valuable experience to any team. Additionally, Tah could potentially be acquired at a reasonable price point.
As per transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Tah is “performing at [a] top level under Xabi Alonso” and is “one to watch in the summer as [his] current contract is due to expire in June 2025”.
If Liverpool are looking to bolster their defensive options, Piero Hincapie could emerge as a more viable summer acquisition compared to Tah. His versatility to operate in both left-back and centre-back positions makes him a compelling prospect, particularly given his tendency to feature prominently in central defense under Alonso’s management.
At just 22 years old, the Ecuadorian talent drew significant attention during the 2022 World Cup, fueling speculation about a potential big-money transfer. Indeed, Hincapie has been the subject of ongoing interest from Liverpool, with his agent confirming discussions during the previous summer transfer window and again in January. Despite rumors of a £43 million move in the winter transfer window, no deal materialized.
Alejandro ‘Alex’ Grimaldo
In Andy Robertson, the Anfield faithful has been fortunate to enjoy one of the greatest left-backs in Premier League history – and certainly the best in England right now.
However, the Scot will be 30 in March and fitness issues have seen Klopp have to call upon Joe Gomez in his place at times this season.
With that being the case, Alex Grimaldo could be a fine option to either come in and provide depth and competition for the role – with doubts over Kotsas Tsimikas’ overall quality relevant too.
The wingback has been a hit in Germany so far, scoring a ridiculous nine goals and claiming 11 assists after arriving from Benfica in the summer – that’s more than Diogo Jota, Cody Gakpo, and Luis Diaz.
Right-back discussions frequently arise at Liverpool. Trent Alexander Arnold’s ball skills are undeniable, but could deploying him in midfield unlock more potential? With Alonso possibly favoring this approach upon arriving in England, it might prompt exploration of alternatives for the position.
In such a scenario, Jeremie Frimpong could emerge as a viable target. Manchester United’s longstanding interest in the attacking wingback is understandable. Similar to Grimaldo, the Leverkusen talent exhibits a penchant for forward surges, boasting impressive statistics of seven goals and 10 assists this season. Given Alonso’s inclination towards wingbacks in his 3-4-2-1 formation, pursuing Frimpong would align with a strategic departure from Klopp’s 4-3-3 setup.
Liverpool embarked on a mission to revamp their midfield last summer. However, the persistent injury problems plaguing Thiago have left a void in that area, hinting at the necessity for further reinforcement post-Klopp era. Exequiel Palacios emerges as a potential solution, having previously been associated with the Reds and boasting connections to Alonso, rendering his acquisition a logical choice.
Dubbed a “touch-tight tackler” and hailed as a “defensive genius” by The Athletic, Palacios’ skill set holds promise for Anfield. While Wataru Endo was brought in temporarily, Palacios stands out as the coveted long-term defensive midfield prospect for Liverpool.
Florian Wirtz has emerged as one of the most captivating young talents in German football presently. His performance stands out among U21 players across European Leagues, evidenced by his tally of 10 significant opportunities created in the ongoing season (as of 05/02/24).
Given his exceptional display, it’s plausible to infer that numerous top-tier clubs worldwide are eyeing the 20-year-old with keen interest. Despite rumored interest from Liverpool, securing his services will require a substantial investment, as he is currently valued at £100.5m. This valuation marks a significant increase from last summer when he was priced at £54m, highlighting the remarkable progress he has made this season.
With Roberto Firmino leading the line for many years, and the likes of Darwin Nunez, Jota and Gakpo tasked with replacing him, Klopp hasn’t really ever asked his central strikers to score all the goals. Instead, he’s been able to rely on Mohamed Salah. Should Alonso arrive this summer, he might not get the same luxury with the 31-year-old Egyptian now regularly linked with a move to the Saudi Pro League.
Should the Spaniard want a more traditional man up top, he might be tempted to go for Victor Boniface – who has 24 goal contributions in 23 games under Alonso. No Leverkusen star has delivered a better average WhoScored match rating this season (7.81), boosted by 16 goals and eight assists in all competitions. Still only 23, the Nigerian could be a special player for years to come.
Potential Liverpool Lineups Under Alonso
Here are three formation suggestions for how Alonso could line up. The first two are if the Spaniard wanted to take on and adapt Klopp’s 4-3-3 set-up, while the last is if he wanted to imprint his style on the club by lining up with the 3-4-2-1 we have seen regularly used in the Bundesliga.
Of course, it’s highly unlikely that all these players would be signed from Leverkusen if Alonso did more – and we’re not saying he’d prefer to play Hincapie over Van Dijk, for example – it’s just a selection of players he might try and bring over from Germany, and how they could be used for Liverpool.
Option 1: 4-4-3
Option 2: 4-4-3
Option 3: 3-4-2-1
In other Liverpool news, “Fantastic” Former Liverpool Coach Emerges as Shock Contender to Replace Jurgen Klopp