Jurgen Klopp says Arne Slot would take on the ‘best job in the world’ at Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has told Arne Slot that he would be taking over the “best job in the world” if the Dutchman is appointed as the next Liverpool manager.

The Feyenoord coach has emerged as the favorite to succeed Klopp after confirming that negotiations have started between the clubs. Slot said he wanted to take up one of the most daunting tasks in soccer by succeeding the Anfield great.

“Best job in the world, best club in the world,” Klopp said Friday. “He would take a really, really interesting job.”

Klopp is standing down at the end of the season after more than eight years at Liverpool in which he has won a full set of trophies including the Premier League and Champions League.

He said he liked Slot’s style of soccer, but has not been involved in the negotiations over his potential appointment.

“If he’s the solution I’m more than happy. It’s not up to me to judge these things, but it all sounds really good to me,” he said.

Klopp had been hoping to go out on top by leading Liverpool to a second league title of his reign. But a 2-0 loss at Everton on Wednesday has left Arsenal and Manchester City as the leading contenders to be crowned champion. Liverpool was also eliminated in the Europa League quarterfinals by Atalanta.

While that has put a dampener on Klopp’s final weeks in charge, he believes it could benefit his successor.

“Obviously now I even help by not finishing on a high, which it looks like, so there is space for improvement,” he said.

Xabi Alonso had been the favorite to succeed Klopp before committing his future to German champion Bayer Leverkusen. Sporting Lisbon’s Ruben Amorim had been another contender.

But it appears the 45-year-old Slot will be the man to lead Liverpool — assuming an agreement can be reached with Feyenoord to release a coach that delivered the Dutch league title last season and the Dutch Cup this year.

Finding the right candidate to fill Klopp’s shoes was always going to be an arduous task given Liverpool’s success under his watch.

Since his appointment in 2015, Klopp has transformed the club into one of the most dominant forces in European soccer and ended its 30-year wait for an English league title in 2020.

He has become an icon for fans, with his trademark post-match fist pump to the crowd an example of the connection he has with them. Supporters were stunned in January by his decision to stand down because he was “running out of energy.”

While Slot has a winning pedigree with Feyenoord, that record will not guarantee success in England.

Liverpool need only look to Erik ten Hag’s struggles at Manchester United to know how difficult it can be for a winning coach to adapt to a new league. Ten Hag won three Dutch titles with Ajax, but faces uncertainty over his future at Old Trafford after a troubled season that looks likely to see United fail to qualify for the Champions League.

An advantage for Slot would be the fact that he takes over a team on the up after Klopp rebuilt his all-conquering squad over the past two years.

Despite losing key players like Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool has quickly returned to title contention and won the League Cup in February with seven players of his team in the final aged 21 or under.

Michael Edwards, who was recently appointed “chief executive of football” for Liverpool owner Fenway Sports Group, has overseen the process of identifying Klopp’s successor. He was the club’s former sporting director and had a key role in Klopp’s success, which included the signings of Mohamed Salah, Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk.

As part of the search, Liverpool looked for candidates who would suit a squad assembled to play Klopp’s high-pressing tactics, and Slott’s preferred 4-3-3 system fits that description.

For a long period, Alonso had looked like the perfect fit after the former Liverpool player ended Bayern Munich’s dominance of German soccer.

Liverpool never publicly confirmed interest in Alonso, but last month he put an end to speculation himself when announcing he would remain at Leverkusen.

Amorim initially replaced him as the favorite to succeed Klopp, while Roberto De Zerbi has impressed at Brighton.

But with just four games remaining of Klopp’s reign, the search for his replacement appears to be nearing an end.


James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson


More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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