Liverpool cool interest in Roberto De Zerbi as Jurgen Klopp’s successor

Liverpool cool interest in Roberto De Zerbi as Jurgen Klopp's successor
Roberto De Zerbi (right) has done an impressive job at Brighton - Reuters/Peter Cziborra

The chances of Roberto De Zerbi becoming the next Liverpool manager have receded with the Italian not currently considered a leading candidate.

The hunt to find Jurgen Klopp’s successor remains fluid, and De Zerbi has certainly not been completely ruled out, but the Brighton & Hove Albion head coach is not the focus of Liverpool’s search at present.

Last Friday, Xabi Alonso, who had long been a front-runner for Liverpool, confirmed Telegraph Sport’s report that he is not available this summer and will remain at Bayer Leverkusen, in a move that also disappointed Bayern Munich.

The confirmation came as no surprise to Liverpool, who had been carrying out their due diligence, and they are pressing ahead in considering alternative candidates. One of those was De Zerbi, who also figures prominently on Bayern’s list to replace Thomas Tuchel, and another is Sporting’s Ruben Amorim.

Telegraph Sport then revealed that Amorim has a 15 million euro (£12.9 million) release clause in his contract with the Portuguese club this summer – far lower than had previously been reported – with that clause dropping to 10 million (£8.6 million) in 2025, when he will only have a year left on his contract.

Amorim has a burgeoning reputation

While the clause is certainly not cheap, it also means it will be easier and cleaner for Liverpool to agree a deal should they decide to make a move for Amorim, who has been scrutinised closely since the start of the process.

They simply have to trigger the clause which will leave Sporting powerless to keep him, meaning they do not need to rush into negotiations.

The 39-year-old, who speaks English, has a burgeoning reputation after ending Sporting’s 19-year hunt for the Portuguese title in 2021 – they are top again at present – and improving players such as Joao Palhinha, Pedro Porro and Matheus Nunes, who have been sold for profit to Premier League clubs. He also favours the attacking style of football that Liverpool will demand and, in terms of personality, is also regarded as a good fit.

Sporting Head Coach Rúben Amorim during the Portuguese Cup Semi-Final second Leg match between Benfica and Sporting at Estadio da Luz on April 2, 2024 in Lisbon, Portugal.
It is felt Amorim would be a good personality fit at Anfield - Getty Images/Pedro Loureiro

Amorim would, therefore, appear to be the favourite for the role but, as one source insisted, “there is no leading candidate” to succeed Klopp and “to claim there is would be wrong”.

Amorim, a former midfielder or right-back who was good enough to make Portugal’s 2010 World Cup squad, retired early through injury and was quickly marked out as a promising coach.

There is also a release clause in De Zerbi’s contract at Brighton, believed to be around £12 million, with the Italian having already suggested he wants to talk to the club’s owner Tony Bloom.

Asked whether he could reassure Brighton fans over his future, De Zerbi said: “I have a different way to decide my future. I want to speak with my club, I have a contract but the problem is not the contract – the problem is to find the same plan, the same target, the same vision for the future.

“For me, I have not decided yet what is my future, because I have the contract, but anyway I want to speak with Tony, my club, to understand their plan, to understand his plan, the Tony plan. Then we can take the decision together, without problems.”

Dossiers have been compiled on suitable managers

Alonso’s decision to stay with Leverkusen – having considered his options - has therefore increased the chances of Bayern turning to De Zerbi. Another option for them is their former coach Julian Nagelsmann, who has also been under consideration by Liverpool but, it seems, is unlikely to want to succeed Klopp. Nagelsmann’s deal as coach of the German national team runs out after the European Championships.

Liverpool are taking their time to conclude their search having first prioritised bringing back Michael Edwards as the chief executive of football for the club’s owners, the Fenway Sports Group. Edwards then hired Richard Hughes, from Bournemouth, as sporting director. Logically the club wanted to make these appointments before hiring a new manager.

Liverpool’s data analysts, led by Director of Research Will Spearman, have already compiling dossiers on those most suitable for the post and that process started once Klopp informed FSG last December he wanted to step down at the end of this campaign.

Liverpool’s chief executive, Billy Hogan, confirmed in January that the club will take a data-driven approach. “The way we operate as a football club is to ensure that we’ve looked at all the information, all the data, we’ve done our proper due diligence and then we’ll make a decision.”

Undoubtedly Amorim scores strongly on the data – as other analysts have shown – although it remains to be seen whether Liverpool decide to make a move for him.