Exclusive — Former Liverpool favourite Gary McAllister has admitted Xabi Alonso 'jumps off the page' as a potential Jurgen Klopp successor and claims that his knowledge of the club could be a major advantage.
Alonso, currently in charge of Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen, is the early frontrunner to become the next Liverpool manager when Klopp steps down at the end of the season, following his shock exit announcement last month.
One report has claimed that the Reds have already made contact with the former midfielder who spent five seasons at Anfield between 2004 and 2009.
Meanwhile, the likes of Roberto De Zerbi, Ruben Amorim and Hansi Flick have all been mentioned as other possible options for Liverpool's FSG owners.
McAllister, who himself played for Liverpool between 2000 and 2002 and was a key member of Gerard Houllier's famous treble-winning side, believes that while there is no standout candidate for the job yet, Alonso's relative inexperience as a head coach is outweighed by the work he has done this season and his history on Merseyside.
"This is going to be a tough choice for the owners. It's big big boots to fill there, but I think I trust the people that are doing the recruitment after bringing Jurgen to the club.
"There's nobody that jumps out to me. Xabi's obviously the name with the bookies and it's the name that's there right in front of you due to the fact he's doing ever so well at Leverkusen.
"He's inexperienced but it'll be a wonderful experience if he wins the Bundesliga against the likes of Bayern and Dortmund. The only way you get experience is by doing the job.
"I don't know him really. I just missed playing with him — he came just after me — but he's a classy operator, very calm.
"When you're looking for attributes, he knows the club as well, having played there. It becomes one that does jump off the page at you."
'The expectation is real'
When asked if 'knowing the club' really is a beneficial factor for a manager, McAllister replied: "100% I think it does help, because as much as you might watch Liverpool over the years and took teams there as an opposing team's manager, it's not until you walk in the building and actually work for the club do you realise how massive a club it is. It's really different when you become a member of staff.
"When you're there, the expectation is real. And that's what makes it a special place.
"You've got to be there to witness it. I was only there a millisecond but you get the feeling. I thought I knew Liverpool, but it's way bigger than I thought. And it's grown since the days that I was there as well.
"It's a world of support now, masses of fans. Liverpool's big."
'The beauty of Jurgen leaving now'
McAllister, who also worked as a first-team coach at Anfield prior to Klopp's appointment back in 2015, suggested that dealing the expectation will be the biggest challenge for whoever the new manager is. However, the former Scotland international added that things are in a good position for the new manager to take over.
He said: "The expectation is the thing, but you can use that to your advantage.
"A couple of draws and it's a disaster at Liverpool. That's the thing that drives the club. As soon as you have a bad result, you've got to move on to the next one.
"You can use the crowd. It's a massive ally.
"And the beauty of Jurgen leaving at the end of the season is that there's not a massive rebuild.
"That front three is refreshed, it has a different make-up now. Middle of the park is dramatically changed... There's a team in place. Obviously, the new manager will want to put his stamp on it but it's not a big rebuild."