Liverpool News

More than a game, Xabi Alonso's future is to be decided in the next match

By Charles Cornwall

More than a game, Xabi Alonso's future is to be decided in the next match

It's a potentially title-defining match in the Bundesliga at the weekend, Liverpool will watch with interest.

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All Liverpool eyes will be on the Burnley game on Saturday afternoon. But do yourself a favor and turn over to the Bundesliga coverage after that. It goes without saying that you should have it on in the background, while taking in all of social media post-match content. But a game that would have been worth at least half an eye anyway, given the potential title implications, now has very specific significance for Reds fans: Xabi Alonso and his Bayer Leverkusen side host Bayern Munich.

This is how the Reds are pressuring Xabi to sign with them for next season

Alonso, of course, has been touted as the most likely successor to Jürgen Klopp. One game won’t define the validity of that assessment, but it will be fascinating to see how he gets on with the hardest fixture in the German football calendar. In the reverse meeting at the Allianz Arena, Alonso’s side looked to have let it slip in the 86th minute, only for a 94th minute penalty to salvage a 2-2 draw. If he can avoid defeat in the home game, Liverpool’s potential manager-in-waiting would take a big step closer to the incredible prospect of an unbeaten season, something not even Bayern Munich has ever achieved in the Bundesliga.

Of course, ‘invincible’ will ring alarm bells for some Liverpool fans, given that another iconic former midfielder also achieved that feat early in his managerial career. Steven Gerrard now finds himself in Saudi Arabia, and not even doing especially well there. But even those of a superstitious disposition should be able to see that what Alonso is achieving and could go on to achieve has precious few real parallels to Gerrard’s reign at Rangers. To put it into context, only seven teams have ever completed an invincible season in any of Europe’s top five leagues, three of which predate the Second World War.

That’s not to say Alonso will definitely get the result he is after at the weekend. Thomas Tuchel might not be pulling up any trees at Bayern Munich, but he cruised through the Champions League group stage, and is firmly in touch in the Bundesliga. A win would see Bayer Leverkusen drop to second, and even with a one-point deficit, it would feel like a long way back against such a winning machine. There’s even the possibility that Liverpool could be looking at two potential Klopp heirs. There has been minimal talk about Tuchel, but he took the same path from Mainz to Borussia Dortmund, and from there has carved his own respectable legacy in the game.

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A duel with a Premier League past

Few would disagree that his Chelsea sacking was a harsh one, and things have gone south at Stamford Bridge since then. Much like when Klopp first joined Liverpool, then, he has a strong track record spanning more than a decade, something Alonso cannot yet match. But Alonso is the option who really inspires enthusiasm, and a result against Tuchel and Bayern would only cement the feeling that he is the man for Liverpool. It’s far from a precondition of landing the Anfield gig, but it is bound to be a fascinating encounter.

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