Xabi Alonso to stay at Bayer Leverkusen amid Liverpool interest

Xabi Alonso says he will remain in his role as Bayer Leverkusen manager next season as he believes the club is the "right place" to be as a young coach.

The Spaniard had been heavily linked with the manager's job at Liverpool since Jurgen Klopp said he would stand down at the end of the season.

"I am convinced it is the right decision, I am happy," said Alonso.

Leverkusen are on the brink of a first Bundesliga title and unbeaten in all competitions this season.

Former Liverpool midfielder Alonso, 42, was also seen as a candidate to take over at another of his old clubs Bayern Munich, whose manager Thomas Tuchel will also leave at the end of the campaign.

Alonso said he had informed Leverkusen's directors of his decision to stay at the club last week.

"We have had a lot of speculation regarding my future," he said. "Until now we have had so many games, been pretty busy and focused, and I wanted to reflect during the international break and take a decision.

"The players gave me so many reasons to keep believing in the team - for their commitment, for their desire, for their hunger to have a great season. My job is not over here."

Signed from Real Sociedad in 2004, Alonso went on to make 210 appearances for Liverpool and won the Champions League with the club in 2005.

He left in 2009 to join Real Madrid - another team he has recently been linked with - and moved to Bayern five years later before retiring as a player in 2017.

Asked about interest from two of his former clubs, Alonso said: "It wouldn't be correct of me to talk about other clubs when they are in this situation. For sure there are clubs I have a strong link [as] I played there. So I respect them.

"[I have] the conviction I am in the right place at Bayer Leverkusen and I want to keep growing with the club, growing with the players.

"We have speculated enough. I want to enjoy wherever I am and I am enjoying it at Leverkusen."

Alonso moved into coaching with Real Madrid's Under-14 side in 2018 and followed that with three years in charge of Real Sociedad's B team.

In October 2022, Leverkusen gave him his first managerial role in first-team football and, having taken over with the club second from bottom in the Bundesliga, Alonso led them to a sixth-placed finish.

In his first full term in charge this season, Leverkusen are 10 points clear of champions Bayern with eight games remaining.

They are also in the semi-finals of the German Cup and quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Klopp 'understands' Alonso decision

Liverpool boss Klopp says he can relate to Alonso's decision to stay at Leverkusen and cited his own experiences as a manager.

"He is doing an incredible job there," said the German. "Leverkusen has a good team and they will probably keep the team together. That's a possibility and not all years it is like that, so I understand that he wants to do that."

Before his move to Liverpool in 2015, Klopp started his managerial career with Mainz before leading Borussia Dortmund to back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012.

"Being at a club in a similar situation [to Alonso], I did pretty much the same and I never regretted it," he said.

There is a chance Liverpool and Leverkusen could meet in the Europa League final in May, in what would be Klopp's final game in charge of the Reds.

Liverpool are set to consider other candidates to replace Klopp, with Sporting Lisbon manager Ruben Amorim and Brighton's Roberto de Zerbi reported to be among their main targets.

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