Xabi Alonso is likely to remain at Bayer Leverkusen next season, according to Simon Rolfes (Picture: Getty)
Bayer Leverkusen’s sporting director Simon Rolfes says he is confident Xabi Alonso will still be the club’s manager next season, despite intense speculation linking the Spaniard with Liverpool.
Alonso is understood to be at the top of Liverpool’s shortlist of possible replacements for Jurgen Klopp, with the 56-year-old German set to step down at Anfield after nine trophy-laden years in the summer.
As a player, Alonso won four trophies across a celebrated five-year spell on Merseyside, including the club’s famous Champions League triumph over AC Milan in 2005 – in which he scored a crucial penalty to force extra time in Istanbul.
Currently the bookmakers’ favourite to succeed Klopp, Alonso has earned widespread praise the phenomenal job he has done at Leverkusen, who remain unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season and sit five points clear at the top of the table.
The side’s comprehensive 3-0 victory over title rivals and reigning champions, Bayern Munich, on Saturday have only amplified calls from Liverpool supporters for the 42-year-old to take over the reins from Klopp at the end of the season.
However, Alonso is tied into a contract at BayArena until 2026 and Rolfes believes the ex-Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern midfielder already has everything he needs at Leverkusen.
Asked whether he is confident Alonso that will still be at Leverkusen next season, Rolfes told German outlet Sport1: ‘Yes, I’m sure.
Alonso is the bookies’ favourite to succeed Klopp on Merseyside (Picture: Getty)
‘Because one thing is the contract and what kind of contract he has but another thing is how comfortable he feels here, how his family feels.
‘He also knows what he has in the team, he knows he’s got a really good team and that he is going to have a really good chance [to win trophies] next season as well.
‘There won’t be big changes or players leaving next year so we will surely have a top team available to us.
‘I think these are all things besides the contract that keep coaches like Xabi and also players with us.’
Alonso’s Leverkusen went five points clear with victory over Bundesliga rivals Bayern (Picture: Getty)
According to Rolfes, Alonso’s ‘courageness’ and willingness to adapt to the situation set the 2010 World Cup winner apart from many of his peers in management.
‘He surprises me every now and then,’ Rolfes – the former Germany and Leverkusen midfielder – added.
‘What we and he always say internally: Everyone has their role and we have a good squad.
Rolfes is confident the ex-Spain midfielder will still be at Leverkusen next term (Picture: Getty)
‘Everyone has the quality to play their part.
‘Xabi has the courage to not only commit to an 11, but also to say: I’ll adapt the system and bring other guys onto the pitch.
‘We are not trapped in the system that is based on how we play football.’
Though Alonso is believed to be open to the prospect of managing Liverpool, he refused to be drawn into the speculation when quizzed on the recent rumours last month.
‘Speculation is normal but my focus is Bayer Leverkusen,’ he told told reporters in the wake of Klopp’s shock announcement.
‘I am very happy right now with my players in Leverkusen. Of course, Jurgen Klopp’s departure from Liverpool was a big surprise. I have great respect and admiration for what he did.’
Asked if he could rule out being Liverpool’s next manager, Alonso replied: ‘Honestly, I don’t have a direct answer. I’m happy here right now, that’s for sure, and only thinking about Leverkusen.’
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