There are two names 'for sure' on Liverpool's next manager shortlist, according to Fabrizio Romano.
The Reds are beginning their search for a new manager following Jurgen Klopp's blockbuster announcement last week that he will step down from his role at the end of the current season.
While Liverpool compete for four trophies on the pitch in a potentially historic campaign, the coming weeks and months will also be crucial behind the scenes as the club hierarchy make plans to appoint not only a new head coach but also a sporting director, following confirmation that Jorg Schmadtke will leave at the end of the January transfer window.
There has already been much speculation and several names touted for both roles, while an Anfield Watch poll showed that former Red and current Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso is the overwhelming favourite to succeed Klopp.
According to transfer reporter Romano, the Spaniard — who played for Liverpool between 2004 and 2009 — is one of two men definitely on the shortlist, along with Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi. However, the role of sporting director is likely to be filled before a move is made for the next manager.
He told GIVEMESPORT: "I still insist on two names confirmed who are Xabi Alonso and Roberto De Zerbi, who for sure are on the list. But I'm sure they will take their time and I'm still sure that Liverpool want to appoint a sporting director before deciding who is going to be the new manager.
"So it's going to be a new project with many things to decide, not just the manager and this is why I think they’re going to take some time."
In terms of Schmadtke's replacment, the likes of Richard Hughes (Bournemouth), Tim Steidten (West Ham) and even former Reds transfer chief Michael Edwards have been suggested as possible targets.
Meanwhile, when asked about the upcoming Liverpool manager's vacancy, last week, Alonso stayed coy, telling reporters: "I have huge respect and admiration for Jurgen. I was very surprised. My focus is Leverkusen. At the moment I am really happy here. I still have a big motivation and I am very happy with the club and the team.
"I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future."