Xabi Alonso is the outstanding candidate to replace Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager, according to former Red Jermaine Pennant.
Alonso, 42, is widely seen as favourite to take over from Klopp, who announced on Friday that he would be stepping down from his position at the end of the season.
That bombshell news led to immediate speculation over the identity of the 56-year-old’s successor with Alonso’s name quickly in the frame.
Having established himself as one of the world’s best midfielders throughout his time at Anfield, winning the Champions League and FA Cup among other honours, Alonso is now making a name for himself as a manager.
Bayer Leverkusen are currently top of the Bundesliga, leading Bayern Munich in second place, and Alonso’s transformative work at the BayArena has not gone unnoticed by the giants of the European game.
And Pennant, who played alongside Alonso for Liverpool in the 2007 Champions League final, has backed his former colleague to do the job.
“My first choice for Liverpool has to be Xabi Alonso,” he told Lord Ping, as cited by DAZN.
“He’s ripping the league apart in Germany. Is it risky because he’s so new to management? Yes, but Klopp was new to the Premier League after doing well in Germany. But the way he has Bayer Leverkusen playing makes him Liverpool’s favourite.”
Klopp leaves Merseyside after nine years in charge and has won every major honour available to him during that time. That makes it all the harder to find a successor who can live up to expectations, according to ex-winger Pennant, but he believes Alonso would be welcomed back.
“It’s so hard to replace Klopp,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who gets nominated, there will be murmurs about them. To fill Klopp’s boots is near enough impossible unless you get a Pep Guardiola.
“He [Alonso] was a legend at Liverpool so to come to Anfield, he’d be automatically loved straight away. It would be the equivalent of [Steven] Gerrard coming home but I think Alonso is the best selection.
“Alonso was so cool and calm, it didn’t matter where he was he could handle it. He’s such a cool guy! Leverkusen are no small club, to be topping Bayern is already a lot of pressure and he’s handling that well.
“At the moment he is my number one choice.”