Jurgen Klopp’s shock decision to step down at the end of the season leaves Liverpool looking for a new manager for the first time in nearly a decade.
Klopp led Liverpool to their first league title in 30 years in 2019-20, having won the Champions League the previous season.
He also lifted the FIFA Club World Cup, FA Cup, League Cup, and UEFA Super Cup, as well as the FA Community Shield during his nine-year stay at Anfield.
Here are five of the contenders to replace the German next season:
Xabi Alonso (Bayer Leverkusen)
A former Liverpool midfielder, Alonso is the front-runner thanks to the remarkable job he is doing at German club Leverkusen.
Not since Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012 have the might of Bayern Munich been dethroned as German champions.
But that run is in danger with Leverkusen unbeaten in 27 games in all competitions this season and four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.
The Spaniard is putting into practice an extraordinary football education having played under Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez and Vicente del Bosque as a player.
Although Alonso is also admired by former clubs Bayern and Real Madrid, Klopp’s exit could allow Liverpool to swoop for the hottest coaching prospect in European football.
Roberto De Zerbi (Brighton)
The Italian has earned rave reviews for both his results and style of play since taking over at Brighton in September 2021.
De Zerbi led the Seagulls into Europe for the first time in the club’s history last season and has reached the last 16 of the Europa League.
However, he was reminded of Brighton’s place in the Premier League food chain as Liverpool snapped up Alexis Mac Allister in the summer transfer window and tried to also land Moises Caicedo before he joined Chelsea for a British transfer record fee in August.
De Zerbi has rebuilt impressively with Brighton seventh in the Premier League table, but the chance to compete for trophies at Anfield would prove hard to resist.
Julian Nagelsmann (Germany)
Once the rising star of German coaching, Naglesmann’s meteoric rise after success at Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig was knocked off course when he was sacked by Bayern after less than two years in charge in Bavaria last year.
The 36-year-old has since taken up the challenge of reviving Germany’s fortunes in time for Euro 2024 on home soil.
Friendly results so far have not been promising with just one win in four games, including defeats to Turkey and Austria.
No matter how the Euro goes for Nagelsmann and his nation, he may seek the day-to-day thrill that comes from club coaching next season.
Ange Postecoglou (Tottenham)
Postecoglou’s mix of charisma and coaching ability has transformed the mood at Tottenham in a similar fashion to how Klopp’s arrival lifted the atmosphere around Liverpool nine years ago.
The Australian is barely six months into a four-year contract and Spurs would make it extremely expensive should Liverpool set their sights on Postecoglou.
But the 58-year-old has shown his ruthlessness in the past to jump ship when he has seen a better opportunity arise.
Postecoglou left Yokohama Marinos mid-season to join Celtic in 2021 and departed the Scottish champions last year after winning five trophies in two seasons.
Steven Gerrard (Al-Ettifaq)
One of Liverpool’s greatest-ever players, Gerrard would have been one of the favourites for the job just a couple of years ago.
However, the former England captain’s coaching career has gone backward since leading Scottish giants Rangers to their only top-flight league title in the past 13 years in 2021.
Gerrard was sacked by Aston Villa after less than a year in charge and has since seen his successor Unai Emery take Villa from relegation candidates to challenging for the Premier League title.
Last year he joined the influx of star names to the Saudi Pro League to take charge of Al-Ettifaq and only last week he extended his contract there to 2027 despite modest results.