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Jurgen Klopp praises Roberto De Zerbi’s managerial style – and Xabi Alonso’s decision

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Jurgen Klopp has paid tribute to Roberto De Zerbi after the Brighton coach was moved up Liverpool’s managerial shortlist by Xabi Alonso ruling himself out of the race.

Along with Sporting’s Ruben Amorim, the Italian is highly thought of by the key Anfield figures who are undertaking a search for Klopp’s replacement ahead of the summer.

And, though he was speaking solely in reference to the Reds’ meeting Brighton this weekend, the incumbent also appears to have a high opinion of a man who is among the contenders to replace him.

He said: “We all know how difficult it is against Brighton. Roberto is doing an incredible job there, and it’s a different game against Brighton.

“I think they improved over the 18-20 months since he is there. The first game, I think we were the first opponent after he joined the club, and we had no clue what to expect.

“We knew how he played in his previous club, but we didn’t know how it would look in the end. It was impressive how quick he got the team in his way and since then it only got better.”

Asked specifically about what makes Brighton a threat under De Zerbi, Klopp went on to hail a style of play that he feels he would not be able to coach.

He replied: “The way they play. It’s a really different way; I couldn’t coach that, it goes against my personality, but it’s a good watch.

“It’s very demanding for the players, clear positioning, pass in the right moment. He’s a top coach, he’s doing really well.

“It’s super interesting to see and I like watching them, to be honest. That makes it tricky. It’s possession-based but even more structured from a positional point of view for each player than City or whatever.

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 8, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) and Brighton & Hove Albion's manager Roberto De Zerbi speak after the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the American Express Community Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“They do really well and, on their day, they can beat any team. But now good news, we can do that as well, so we give it a try.”

Klopp also chimed in on Alonso turning down interest from the likes of Liverpool and Bayern Munich to spend at least another year at Bayer Leverkusen.

He backed the Spaniard’s decision, which he publicly announced on Friday, likening it to extending his own stay at Borussia Dortmund.

Klopp said: “The one part I can speak about is him being a young manager being at a club and doing really well. I had a similar situation and did pretty much the same and never regretted it.

“He is doing an incredible job there. Leverkusen has a good team and they will probably keep the team together this year as well.

“So I understand that he wants to do that.”