Since its inception, the Premier League has allowed for its managers to become stars in ways other leagues haven’t. Klopp and Pep defined their era in the same way Ferguson, Mourinho and Wenger did for theirs. With Klopp departing at the end of the season, another character will have to step up to replace the mercurial manager.

Klopp arrived in Liverpool with the club in total turmoil and turned the club back into a powerhouse. The void left by his departure might take years to fully be filled, but Liverpool needs to ensure they correctly prepare for the future.

In his first season, Klopp led Liverpool to the Europa League final, and while they would lose the final, it would be a sign of things to come. His tenure saw a total revival from the top down at the once downtrodden club. Along with club icon Salah, Klopp ensured that he would be one of the best managers the Prem had ever seen.  

Both Arsenal and Manchester United spent years in the wild searching for a successor to usher in a new era of success to their clubs. While Arsenal would eventually find their successor, United’s failures have to serve as a warning to Liverpool. Any sort of declining results on the pitch could spell further doom off the pitch.

Plenty of managers will want this job. A talented squad with the historic aura of the club and a relatively stable ownership, it does seem like the ideal job.

Zinedine Zidane

It’s often forgotten that Zidane is still unemployed, despite his glorious tenure in Madrid. For anyone who remembers those Madrid sides, it’s shocking to have seen him be out of work so long.

Photo: Getty

After leaving Madrid, Zidane’s managerial career was on an insane path. A first time head coach, the Frenchman revived a middling Madrid side. With or without stars, Zidane found ways to win with his exciting play style.

Zidane’s style is a bit of a departure from Klopp’s gegenpress style, with Zidane playing with the motivation to keep and play with possession. His teams have played both narrow and wide, but there is an intense focus on spreading the pitch. While defensively his teams sit back more than Klopp’s, it’s easy to see his style translate to the Prem.

From the jobs he’s turned down, Zidane is clearly waiting for a stable project. The likes of Juventus and Marseille proved to be unattractive to the Frenchman given that. Control of the project while being backed by attentive ownership is what Zidane wants.

Liverpool ticks all those boxes for Zizou. Klopp is leaving behind a talented squad that can still compete at the highest level. Additionally, while there has been fair criticism of this ownership group, it’s among the more stable across Europe.

In terms of how likely Zidane becoming Liverpool manager is, it’s unlikely, but not improbable. Zidane will likely continue to wait for the perfect project, but he could do a lot worse than Liverpool. 

Roberto de Zerbi

Graham Potter’s departure from Brighton seemed, at the time, likely to doom the club back to irrelevancy. However, de Zerbi stepped up and, arguably, has taken the club to the next level. 

Over his career, de Zeri cut his teeth at different levels and situations to reach this level. The Italian has yet to taste real glory in his career, he’s an exciting prospect. For clubs looking to reach the next stage, de Zerbi continues to be the name in the mouths of  club officials.

Photo: Glyn Kirk

Brighton plays to command the play and pick their opponents apart. Similar to Zidane, de Zerbi’s side control the game and don’t like to play on the counter as much. Creative players thrive and are given the freedom to attack at will.

Perhaps the best aspect of his game is how he’s able to get the most of his players. Stars like Caicedo and Mac Allister played their best in his system. The Italian knows his system and the players needed for them, similar to Klopp.

There are no indications that de Zerbi wants a bigger challenge, despite the pestering of larger clubs. If Brighton pulls off a shocking run to the Europa League final, the noise will only get louder. Even now, his name is constantly being linked to every vacancy.

Liverpool may not have de Zerbi at the top of their list, but he’s a heck of a consolation prize. It may not be Liverpool, but a big club will benefit from the Italian.

Xabi Alonso

What’s more heartwarming than a club legend returning to his club to manage it? Xabi Alonso is one of the hottest managerial prospects in all of football, so a return to Anfield feels in the cards.

A year ago, this would have been an insane suggestion, but now, it’s a dream fit. Bayer Leverkusen continues to play the best football in Europe under Alonso. The Spaniard molded an underperforming side into the team likely to break Bayern’s iron grip on the Bundesliga.

Bayer Leverkusen lives to attack with pace and space, looking to just pull defenses apart for easy chances. With that explosive attack, Leverkusen’s balanced midfield overpowers opponents and controls the game. Defensively, Alonso organized one of the toughest defenses in Europe by reverting back to a three man backline.

Photo: Getty

Even if Leverkusen doesn’t win the title, Alonso won over plenty of admirers across the continent. The flashy style of play harkens back to the best of Spain in the early 2010s with the defensive mindset repopularized by Conte. It’s not hard to imagine how this will translate to the Prem because Pep has played like this, and so has Conte.

Fortunately for Alonso, this Liverpool is set up for his system, with only the backline really needing a boost. Alonso’s brand of football is the type that gets the best out of players like Díaz, Salah and Szoboszlai. Given the total backing of the board, like he has been in Germany, Alonso’s  translation to the Prem would be seemless.

If you’re a bettor, Alonso is the best bet. From his play style to his status at Anfield, Alonso matches the profile of the next Liverpool manager.

This will be the most consequential offseason for Liverpool since they brought in Salah. Plenty of managers are rising up to the top of the list for Liverpool’s front office, but it’s a vital decision. If the Reds dream of continuing their dominance, Liverpool can’t become like their rivals in United.


Featured image: Liverpool

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