Forget Ruben Amorim - Liverpool have six top class next manager alternatives available

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A look at the candidates to replace Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool as Rúben Amorim rumours begin to look wide of the mark.

First, it was all about Xabi Alonso. Then, when Europe’s hottest managerial property decided to extend his stay at Bayer Leverkusen, Rúben Amorim became the priority. Now, with reports in both Portugal and the UK suggesting that Amorim seems unlikely to take the job, Liverpool are left scratching around for an alternative. The hunt for Jürgen Klopp’s replacement is not going according to plan.

Amorim may yet take the reins at Anfield, but his flight to London on Monday seems like it may have been to discuss the possibility of taking over at West Ham United, not Liverpool, while Portuguese newspaper Record suggests he isn’t all that interested in either posting.

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So where do Liverpool turn next? We’ve looked at six of the candidates who could be tasked with filling Klopp’s shoes next summer and assessed the likelihood that they’re the right man for the job:

Paulo Fonseca

Several media outlets have reported that Liverpool have already opened discussions with Portuguese manager Fonseca. Something of a surprise candidate, Fonseca is currently in charge of French side Lille, who are fourth in Ligue 1 and were recently knocked out of the Europa Conference League on penalties after putting up a spirited fight against Aston Villa.

At 51, Fonseca is one of the more experienced managers Liverpool might look at but his career took time to get going – he took charge of seven different sides in his home country, including Porto and Braga, between 2007 and 2016, seldom staying long at any of them and failing to last the full season at Porto, his biggest job up to that point. His reputation has grown since, however, and he had a hugely successful spell at Shakhtar Donetsk, winning the Ukrainian Premier League and cup double in all three seasons he spent there before enjoying two respectable years at AS Roma.

His CV is still not the most gilded, but he likes to play stylish, possession-based football, typically in a 4-2-3-1 formation which could suit Liverpool’s current squad. Employing a manager like Amorim, by contrast, who plays with a back three, might require an overhaul of the team.

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Arne Slot

The 45-year-old Dutchman is currently at Feyenoord, who he guided to the Eredivisie title last season – just their second title of the century. His side are lagging behind champions-elect PSV Eindhoven this time around, but they won the KNVB Cup and Slot has still earned a reputation as one of Europe’s most exciting and talented managers.

GiveMeSport are among the outlets reporting that Slot is on Liverpool’s shortlist, and he would seem to be a solid tactical fit for them as well – like Fonseca, he primarily works with a 4-2-3-1 system, but he also adopts a Klopp-esque high press out of possession and likes to use attacking wing-backs high up the pitch with the ball. The use of a midfield double pivot is a point of difference between Slot’s style at Feyenoord and Klopp’s staggered central three, but it’s hardly a huge stylistic shift for the players to adapt to. The Daily Express have even gone as far as to claim that Liverpool’s apparent interest in Amorim was no more than a “smokescreen” for their attempt to poach Slot.

Roberto de Zerbi

When Klopp first announced his intention to step down as Liverpool manager, Brighton & Hove Albion head coach Roberto de Zerbi was one of the first names on the rumour mill alongside Alonso, and it’s unlikely that the link will go away with Liverpool’s managerial search still ongoing.

The Italian’s adventurous tactical style at Brighton, revolving around a swashbuckling attack and a plan to lure pressing teams deep in order to hit them on the counter, has made him something of a darling for the strategy buffs but mixed results this season have taken some of the sheen off his candidacy for the top European jobs – in particular, there are reasonable doubts over his qualities as a defensive coach given the number of goals that Brighton can concede.

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His style isn’t just intricate but also revolves around a back three, which – as with Amorim – would likely involve more work in the transfer market that Liverpool’s owners may wish to undertake. Those are the red flags, but De Zerbi’s imaginative tactics combined with the largely positive results achieved at Shakhtar Donetsk and Sassuolo means he will likely have at least some fans in Anfield’s boardrooms.

Thiago Motta

The former Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan midfielder seems to be just as good a manager as he was a player – since taking over Bologna in 2022, he’s rejuvenated the club and has them sat in Serie A’s top four with every chance of qualifying for the Champions League, which would be a huge achievement.

For a defensive midfielder, his football is very attack-minded – he once said that “for me, the attacker is the first defender and the goalkeeper is the first attacker.” At Bologna, much of his side’s attacking flair comes from the deployment of two deep-lying attacking players (Joshua Zirkzee and Lewis Ferguson) who find space between the lines and operate either as number tens or as wingers when required. That kind of attacking versatility and creative thinking means he has been linked in passing with the Liverpool job – but many pundits in Italy think it more likely that he goes to Juventus or AC Milan.

Gary O’Neil

The superlative job that O’Neil has done at Wolverhampton Wanderers (and before that at Bournemouth, where he was fired despite avoiding relegation) has already seen him linked tentatively with the Manchester United job, and his name appears on the bookmaker’s odds tables as the next Liverpool manager even though there haven’t been many strong links in the press.

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O’Neil has toughened Wolves up and solved their goal-scoring problems this season with some style and dragged a team which many pundits thought would be relegation candidates into a comfortable mid-table position. With such a short managerial career behind him, he may not have a sufficient body of work to impress Liverpool just yet, but at his current trajectory one would imagine a ‘traditional’ big club will take a chance on him eventually – but the lack of evidence that he can succeed at a stellar side may count against him for now.

Thomas Frank

TeamTalk claim to have an “exclusive” scoop that Brentford manager Frank has “plenty of admirers” at Anfield, and is a serious candidate to replace Klopp this summer – and while the rumours haven’t yet been echoed elsewhere in the media, his remarkable track record in London means that he has the reputation to be a genuine contender.

After six seasons of over-achievement at Brentford, few would argue that he doesn’t have the ability to take on a bigger job, but the complete absence of silverware on his CV could dissuade Liverpool from taking a chance on the Dane. His aggressive, pressing style of play, however, could represent continuity after Klopp and he’s regarded as an excellent man-manager.

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