Xabi Alonso has described Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp as “special”, and praised the “treasure” created by the German coach on Merseyside.
Liverpool have made a slow start to the 2022-23 campaign, winning just two of their six Premier League games so far (D3, L1) before suffering a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Napoli in their opening Champions League group stage game last week in Italy.
The former Borussia Dortmund head coach has presided over a period of success at Anfield since arriving in 2015, though, winning the Champions League, Premier League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, EFL Cup and FA Cup.
Alonso – who played for the Reds from 2004 to 2009 – said he always felt Klopp would be a success at Liverpool, stating in an interview with the club’s website: “I loved my games against his Dortmund when I was in [Real] Madrid and Bayern [Munich]. You could see that he was special.
“I remember when he signed for Liverpool, straight away I had the feeling that he was the man. We were playing Liverpool-Mainz at Mainz [pre-season friendly in 2006] and in the programme he mentioned that his favourite stadium was Anfield. That was on my mind.
“When he signed for Liverpool, I [thought], ‘He’s always had that in his mind and he’s the right man for the job.’ After that, what he’s done, it’s a treasure what we have in Liverpool, what Jurgen built and the inspiration for the players, for the club, for the fans, for everyone.”
After spells with Real Madrid and Bayern, Alonso retired from playing and moved into coaching, starting with a role with Madrid’s youth setup, before becoming head coach of the B team at another former club, Real Sociedad.
He stepped down from the role at the end of last season, and is preparing himself for the “next thing”.
“I want to visit, to keep learning and to keep being updated about the things that are being done,” he said.
“Use the time, not just to sit on the chair and do nothing. No, no, I want to use this time for myself to prepare better for the next thing. I don’t know but I will have to choose what’s best for me.
“[Coaching is] demanding but very rewarding as well. It’s another role but my role was to help young players at Sociedad’s academy. They did really well, we [were] promoted to the second division in Spain – it was a great achievement.
“I have enjoyed it. You play games in another way. It takes longer, the preparation, but you feel really into the game.
“As Johan Cruyff said, the best thing about football is playing football, and the second one is coaching football.”
The former Spain midfielder also spoke about compatriot and former Bayern team-mate Thiago Alcantara, who joined Liverpool in 2020.
Thiago could make only his second start of the season on Tuesday when Liverpool face Ajax in the Champions League, having recovered from a hamstring injury sustained in the opening day draw at Fulham last month.
“You could see that he’s a different player,” Alonso said. “He’s a different talent because he’s competitive but at the same time he has those magic Brazilian actions that are not that European.
“He’s competitive but he can do different things. He was a great player at Bayern and he continues being consistent and being a great player at Liverpool.
“We talked a lot [in 2020, prior to his move] because he was thinking about the option.
“I said, ‘Thiago, you love football, you’re in a great club, you’re in Bayern and you’ve achieved great things, but Liverpool is pure football and you’re going to enjoy it as much as you have done. If you feel it’s the right moment for a new chapter, you won’t get better places than Liverpool’.”