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Xabi Alonso: Bayer Leverkusen head coach commits future to club amid Liverpool and Bayern Munich links

Xabi Alonso is staying as Bayer Leverkusen next season; head coach was believed to be a strong contender to replace Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool this summer; Bayern Munich were also keen to appoint Alonso; Leverkusen currently hold a 10-point lead over Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga

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Paul Merson described the managerial role at Liverpool as 'one of the biggest jobs in football' and admitted he was 'shocked' by Xabi Alonso's decision to stay at Bayer Leverkusen.

Xabi Alonso has confirmed he will remain as Bayer Leverkusen head coach next season, ending speculation he could succeed Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager this summer.

Sky Germany had earlier reported that the Spaniard had told Bayern Munich, who were also interested in the 42-year-old, that he will be remaining at Leverkusen, who he has guided to the verge of winning this season's Bundesliga.

"It's been a season where we've had a lot of speculation regarding my future, until now we've had so many games, we've been pretty busy and focused," said Alonso in Friday's press conference ahead of his side's game with Hoffenheim on Saturday.

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Xabi Alonso ends recent speculation linking him to Liverpool and Bayern Munich by committing his future to Bayer Leverkusen

"I wanted to use that time in the international break and take a decision and last week I had a very good meeting with Simon [Rolfes, managing director], Fernando [Carro, CEO] and informed them of my decision to continue being coach of Bayer Leverkusen.

"For sure, all the decisions you have to analyse well. I try to take the right ones, and where they come in a natural way. This is the right way for me to develop as a coach. I am a young coach, but right now, I feel this is the right place.

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Sky Sports' Melissa Reddy explains why Xabi Alonso is expected to stay at Bayer Leverkusen and examines the possible implications for Liverpool's manager search

"I feel really respected by all the departments, the fans show us great support this year but also during the difficult moments last year.

"I have a great staff who help me day by day to work better, improve and prepare the team - and for sure, the players give me so many reasons to keep on believing in the team.

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"Their commitment, desire and hunger, for that I feel my job is not over here.

"Putting all those things together, this important decision I believe is the right one. I am still young and time will tell, but now I am happy."

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Bayer Leverkusen boss Alonso scored an incredible free-kick in training, proving that you never truly lose it!

Alonso had been touted by many as a replacement for Klopp, who is leaving Anfield at the end of the season, though the Reds were already not expected to include their former midfielder on their shortlist of possible successors.

Bayern, meanwhile, were also understood to be keen to appoint their former player as a replacement for the departing Thomas Tuchel.

Alonso, though, was tight-lipped when asked about Liverpool and Bayern's interest.

"It wouldn't be correct for me to speak about other clubs in this situation," he added.

"[Liverpool and Bayern] are clubs I respect, I played there, I have strong links to them, but it's not correct for me to speak about them right now.

It wouldn't be correct for me to speak about other clubs in this situation. "[Liverpool and Bayern] are clubs I respect, I played there, I have strong links to them, but it's not correct for me to speak about them right now."
Xabi Alonso

"It's more about the conviction I have that I am in the right place, at Bayer Leverkusen, that I want to keep growing with the club and the players.

"I am at this stage of my young career as a coach, it's too early to talk about these things."

Alonso has led Leverkusen to the brink of their first Bundesliga title in his first full season as manager.

After three years in charge of Real Sociedad's B team, Alonso joined Leverkusen in October 2022, with the side in the bottom half of the Bundesliga.

He engineered an improvement that led to Europa League qualification. In Alonso's second season, Leverkusen are unbeaten in all competitions and set to end Bayern's 11-year dominance of the Bundesliga title.

Xabi Alonso

Liverpool have begun to reshape their hierarchy ahead of appointing a new manager, with Michael Edwards, the former sporting director, returning as owner Fenway Sports Group's CEO of football.

Edwards then recruited Bournemouth's Richard Hughes as sporting director. Hughes helped to appoint Andoni Iraola, who shares an agent with Alonso, as Cherries boss last summer.

Why has Alonso turned down two big clubs?

Sky Sports News' senior reporter Melissa Reddy:

"Alonso wants to stay at Leverkusen and continue his incredible project which is still in its infancy and is on course to make history. That's not only in the Bundesliga, but they could win a treble and remain unbeaten across all competitions.

"Alonso has been given assurances that he can continue to build - and the team won't be broken apart. He feels there's still so much talent and potential to mine at Leverkusen.

"This decision is more about Alonso rather than the opportunities being presented to him. He wants to stay true to himself and his work. When everyone expected him to sign for Borussia Mönchengladbach, he resisted and extended his contract with Real Sociedad B. He talks about not letting other people control your decisions - you need to do things when you have an intuition, when you feel the time is right and when you think it's your moment. Not when other people say it is.

"I think Alonso feels the Bayern job will come around again. In the time Jurgen Klopp has been at Liverpool, Bayern have had seven different head coaches. In contrast, a shot at the Liverpool job is rare.

"It's unfortunate for him that's it come so soon but Alonso staying at Leverkusen fits perfectly into the timeline of succeeding Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid. As much as Leverkusen are happy with this news, so are Real.

"Now there's no guarantees in football and he could suffer a dip next season but essentially, he's backing himself, his ability, his work.

"Another point to make is that Liverpool will digest this development differently from Bayern because they've been very private and respectful over the process of Klopp's successor, whereas the German giants were very public and chest-out about Alonso joining them. The narrative coming out of Munich that if he didn't stay at Leverkusen this summer, he would become Bayern manager ignores the reality that his decision is an indictment on them. Alonso is effectively saying he believes Leverkusen can oust them again next season."

Merson: Alonso might never get this chance again

Sky Sports' Paul Merson on Soccer Special:

"You've got to make hay while the sun shines in management, and you're talking about two of the biggest jobs in world football.

"They might never come again. I don't see Bayer Leverkusen winning the league again next year, I think Bayern the juggernaut will continue where they've been the last 10 years.

"I'm shocked. I can understand he's probably happy what he's doing, he's getting great accolades and rightly so, but these come along once in a blue moon.

"I just hope he doesn't regret this. I know what management's like, everyone gets the sack in the end. They're two of the biggest jobs in the world of football."

Will Bayern target De Zerbi?

In an exclusive interview with Sky Germany, Max Eberl, Bayern's sporting director, said the club are "getting to know a lot of exciting people" as they continue their search for Tuchel's replacement.

"The search for a coach is ongoing," said Eberl. "But I won't go into individual names. It's not my style to discuss these topics in public.

"It's clear that we need a coach from the summer onwards and it's also clear we're now having very intense discussions and getting to know a lot of exciting people.

"We'll try to make the best possible decision for Bayern. What's the point of rushing now? It's the beginning of April. We still have a bit of time."

Like Liverpool, Bayern have also been credited with an interest in Brighton's Roberto De Zerbi, and Eberl said: "In the past, I've always tried to find coaches who fit the club.

"The best coach might not be a good fit for Bayern. We have to find the coach who fits best. We think about that a lot.

"What is Bayern? What is the philosophy and identity? What do we need? I have to know the club.

"What is the history of the coach? How did he play football? How did he deal with transfers? Which players did he bring in? How did he deal with guys? Did he already have a big club? What languages ​​does he speak?

"It cannot be brushed off the table that things could become a little more difficult for Bayern if he speaks neither German nor English."

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