Xabi Alonso has refused to rule himself out of the running to become the next Liverpool manager following Jurgen Klopp's resignation - but says he is 'really happy' at Bayer Leverkusen.

In a shock statement on Friday morning Klopp, 56, announced his decision to step down as manager, saying he is 'running out of energy' after an illustrious eight-and-a-half years at Anfield, where he led the club to its first league title in 30 years.

Assistant managers Pep Lijnders and Peter Krawietz will also depart to pursue pastures new. Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon has confirmed plans are already underway to appoint a new manager.

Alonso, who signed a new contract with Leverkusen in May, has emerged as the early favourite to succeed Klopp following a remarkable 15 months in Germany in which the club have taken 93 points from 132.

Leverkusen CEO Fernando Carro has previously hinted that an agreement could be struck with Liverpool if they were to make an approach for the Spaniard, who spent five years at Anfield between 2004 and 2009. Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have also been linked with a swoop for the World Cup winner.

Alonso has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed Klopp(Photo by Oliver Kaelke/DeFodi Images via Getty Images
Alonso has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed Klopp after the German announced his resignation in an emotional video on Friday morning(Photo by Oliver Kaelke/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

In 2018 Alonso revealed he had 'dreamt' of eventually managing Liverpool.

Asked about potentially replacing Klopp, Alonso said: "Speculation is normal. What Jurgen has done in Liverpool I have a lot of respect for and great admiration for what he has done over the last few years.

He’s achieved a lot. My focus is here at Bayer Leverkusen. I have a lot of motivation to do good work here.

“I’m very content and happy with the team and the club. So that is my focus.

“My focus is not on May, it is on tomorrow and Gladbach and on helping my players be ready for tomorrow. We’ll see what happens at Liverpool.”

'What happens next, I don't know'

Leverkusen are unbeaten in 27 games and sit top of the Bundesliga, four points clear of Bayern Munich, with 15 wins and three draws.

The 42-year-old, who managed Real Sociedad's reserves before being appointed Leverkusen boss in 2022, boasts a 64% win rate at the German club. 

He added: “It was a surprise, but I had huge respect for Jurgen before he came to Liverpool. the moment, I’m really happy here and enjoying my work and I am feeling that each game is a challenge and we are on an intense but beautiful journey here at Leverkusen.

Alonso is unbeaten in 27 games with Bayer Leverkusen and has also attracted interest from <b><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/data/real-madrid' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/data/real-madrid'>Real Madrid</a></b> and <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/08/31/liverpool-fc/1154775-ryan-gravenberch-liverpool-reportedly-agree-deal-with-bayern-munich-to-sign-netherlands-midfielder.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/08/31/liverpool-fc/1154775-ryan-gravenberch-liverpool-reportedly-agree-deal-with-bayern-munich-to-sign-netherlands-midfielder.html'>Bayern Munich</a></strong>(Photo by Jörg Schüler/Bayer 04 Leverkusen via Getty Images)
Alonso is unbeaten in 27 games with Bayer Leverkusen, winning 24, and has also attracted interest from Europan giants Real Madrid and Bayern Munich(Photo by Jörg Schüler/Bayer 04 Leverkusen via Getty Images)

“I am trying to give my best to help my players be ready for the next game and that’s my goal. What happens next I don’t know.

“I’m not at the moment where I am thinking about my next step. I’m thinking about where I am right now and I think I am in a great place and I’m enjoying it. I think it’s the right place.

“I am thinking about what the pace of the team is going to be on Saturday. What’s going to happen in the future I don’t know and I don’t really care at the moment.”

Alonso made 210 appearances for The Reds, winning the Champions League in 2005.

An erudite scholar, he has previously worked under the likes of Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Rafa Benitez and Carlo Ancelotti.

Asked if he could rule out becoming Liverpool's new manager, he said: "That's a direct question! I don't have a direct answer. I'm happy here right now, that's for sure, and only thinking about Leverkusen."