Recently the footballing world was sent into high gear by the announcement from Germany that a certain team manager would be vacating his position at the end of the campaign. So what? After all, we are currently in a period when domestic clubs are battling over the final few games for their respective titles while others try to stave off relegation. Domestic cup competitions are entering their final stages with the prize now in sight and the Champions League is well into the quarter finals. Given the ever increasing intensity and importance of the final couple months of football we have to look forward to, what managerial departure could possibly command so much attention? The answer is Jurgen Klopp.
Klopp’s imminent departure from Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund may have caught some people off guard but anyone who has followed the 47 year old’s career and paid particularly close attention this season probably knew something was going to happen. Klopp arrived at Dortmund in 2008 and had a massive impact at the club. His first year saw him hoist the Supercup which was followed up with back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2010/11 and 2011/12. May 2012 was one of the high points of the former FSV Mainz player and manager’s career when he defeated Bayern Munich to claim the domestic double. The 2013 Champions League final saw Dortmund face off, yet again, against league rivals Bayern Munich. Klopp’s side put up a strong fight but fell just short in the end thanks to an Arjen Robben goal which left Dortmund as runners-up. Since then, things haven’t gone as well for Dortmund or their manager as the team currently sit 10th and 37 points back of league leaders Bayern. As he did at Mainz at the end of the 2007/08 season after a failing bid to get the team promoted, Klopp tendered his resignation.
With a manager of Klopp’s abilities and background now on the market (if a deal hasn’t already been arranged behind the scenes) the speculation turns to where he will end up next. Over the past few seasons, the German’s success in the Bundesliga had caused him to become linked with many of the biggest clubs in Europe whenever a vacancy opened. Heading into this off-season there will likely be a few major openings and a few more potential vacancies which Klopp could fill. Odds-makers have been very busy the past few nights, working on the statistics and probabilities in an effort to narrow down which touchline Klopp will be patrolling during the 2015/16 season. The following are 10 of the most likely destinations.
10 German National Team
It’s natural when a popular manager comes onto the market that they immediately be linked with their national team. In this case, the possibility of Jurgen Klopp taking over seems pretty remote. After all, current manager Joachim Low recently renewed his contract until 2018 and the recent World Cup title with Germany’s name on it surely goes some way in ensuring job stability. So are there any threads of possibility in this link? Potentially – but only because Germany have hardly blown away the competition in Euro 2016 qualifying. They currently sit second in their group and it would take a brave bet against the Germans failing to make the tournament in France next year. The timing is also all wrong, as Klopp would have to sit out a year and hope Low vacated the national team position in the meantime. Given Klopp is only 47, he likely isn’t going to sit around and wait while a host of European clubs anxiously wait for his signature.
Currently fourth in Serie A, Napoli have popped up as one of the clubs potentially in the hunt for Jurgen Klopp. Odds makers have the Italian club well off the pace of some clubs mentioned later in this list, but it’s still a case of ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire.’ In this instance, the Klopp-to-Napoli rumors are largely fuelled by the point that the German was considered for the managerial vacancy at the San Paolo back in 2013. As we all know, the club went with Rafa Benitez. That relationship has gone rather cold and it’s pretty clear that Benitez and Napoli will part ways sooner rather than later. This all means the door is open to Klopp’s arrival, albeit just a crack. Realistically, Napoli are up against some real powerhouses with very big wallets which can offer challenges for Klopp not available in Italy. Still, odds for such a move currently sit at around 10-1 and anything is possible, if unlikely.
8 AC Milan
If anyone needs a motivating force like Jurgen Klopp, it’s AC Milan. The Italian giants currently sit mid table, well off the leaders and outside a Champions League and Europa league position. The experiment with Clarence Seedorf as manager failed miserably and his replacement, Filippo Inzaghi has fared worse with a win percentage hovering around 33%. Like Napoli, Milan face a disadvantage in the entire ‘Klopp speculation saga’ given the German has no real ties to Italy and has spoken about the necessity of speaking the local language as being key in running a club. Additionally, if the odds makers’ tables were league tables, Milan would be in relegation concerning the signing of the former Dortmund boss.
Nonetheless, money and the promise of a new challenge are big motivators for many would-be managers – both of which Milan could potentially offer Klopp. The German manager has had some rumors linking him with Milan, mostly coming out in February and March 2015. Tuttosport has reported that Milan chief Adriano Galliano has targeted Klopp to help the club return to glory. It’s a long shot, but one every fan of the Rossoneri would likely welcome.
7 Bayern Munich
Naturally, when the manager of one of the bigger German clubs announces the end of their tenure, they are linked to another large German club. In this case, Jurgen Klopp is being tied, by some sources, with a potential move to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich. Oddsmakers have Munich as one of the more likely destinations for the former Dortmund man - although the odds do seem a bit longer than we are being led to believe. First, Bayern Munich are doing rather well under Pep Guardiola. The former Barcelona manager enjoyed a fantastic first season with Bayern during the 2013/14 campaign and the team currently sits comfortably atop the Bundesliga table. Guardiola also has a contract until 2016 and there aren’t really any indicators that it will be cancelled early. Ultimately, this seems to be a case of ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.’ Yes, Pep has yet to take Munich to Champions League glory and the recent defeat to Porto will not help that goal, but he still has a couple of Champions League medals to show he can get the job done – something Klopp does not. In any event, this move is possible but highly unlikely.
A manager who is a good motivator, enjoys developing young players and employs a modern style of attacking football seems like a perfect fit for the Catalan giants – at least on paper. Current Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is still in the hunt for the Champions League and La Liga title. Win one, or both, of these coveted trophies and his job is likely secure for next season. Failure to secure major silverware combined with a bit of a rocky period experienced earlier this season could potentially create a Klopp-shaped hole in the Barcelona coaching staff.
It has been reported by the likes of Goal.com that several of Barcelona’s presidential candidates have been in touch with Klopp as they develop a list of players and coaches they will promise to sign in order to win votes. If you are at all familiar with these elections, they can mean big changes as new presidents like to put their stamp on the club, usually in the form of a shiny new manager.
In comparison with last season, Liverpool’s 2014/15 campaign hasn’t quite been on the same level. Some say it’s because the team now lack the bite they displayed last season. Others argue that manager Brendan Rodgers is overrated and last season was just a flash in the pan. In any event, Liverpool’s drop in form this season started the managerial rumor mill going as early as November and December 2014. The likes of the Daily Mail, the Mirror and Express (to name a few) reported that as 2014 came to an end Jurgen Klopp was being lined up to fill any vacancies on Merseyside. These rumors likely have their origin in the fact that Klopp’s name was included on a shortlist created by Fenway Sports Group when the ownership were searching for a replacement following the departure of Kenny Dalglish in 2012. Despite the Reds’ drop in league form this season, management seems to still have faith that the Northern Irishman is the right person for the job – something which could be rewarded with a decent FA Cup finish.
4 Paris Saint-Germain
Currently in second place with a game in-hand in France’s Ligue 1 and still (barely) in Champions League following their first leg loss to Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain are technically still in the hunt for the quadruple. That said, manager Laurent Blanc’s future doesn’t seem all too clear as he remains unpopular with a large segment of the fans. Blanc’s passive approach and occasional inability to control some of his players and their egos also garners much attention. Bringing in Klopp, a known motivator and authoritative figure, would certainly fix that problem.
Oddsmakers are mixed on this one with figures hovering around the 7-1 to 10-1 range. While this one may seem a bit far-fetched to some, keep in mind that only a few months ago there were reports in the papers, such as the Express, which had PSG linked with a swoop for Klopp. Of all the names floating around Klopp, PSG must surely be considered a dark horse given their European potential and the challenge posed by keeping discipline in a team full of such massive egos.
As we near the end of the season, it has become tradition over recent years to take a look around and see who is available to replace Arsene Wenger. To be fair, the pressure on the Arsenal manager has dropped off considerably given the FA Cup victory last season and the potential for a repeat cup win and a top-two league finish. This hasn’t stopped the odds makers or pundits from assessing the likelihood of Klopp finding his way to the Emirates. Further strengthening this link is the fact that it was Klopp who was so strongly linked with any potential managerial job at Arsenal when the vultures were really circling over Wenger during the past two seasons.
When the Gunner’s faithful were booing their manager and unravelling banners telling him it was time to leave, most people saw Klopp as a natural fit in North London. The German places emphasis on youth and development and follows a philosophy built around positive attacking football – sound familiar? Of course, odds are one thing and reality is another. If recent interviews with Wenger are anything to go by, the move seems unlikely to happen given the Frenchman’s labeling of the whole story, as reported by the Telegraph, as “a bit ridiculous.”
2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid are a massive club with an equally massive reputation. Currently they are managed by Carlo Ancelotti and find themselves in a tight race with rivals Barcelona for top spot in La Liga. Last season’s Copa del Rey and Champions League winners, the expectation of fans and leadership is that Los Blancos win silverware every season. However, winning any trophy isn’t always good enough and the expectation is that the club from the capital are top contenders every year in La Liga and the Champions League.
For a spot to open for Klopp, Madrid’s leadership would have to grow tired of Ancelotti, the man who delivered four major trophies last season, including the much desired tenth Champions League title. Of course, should Ancelotti fail to win the league or Champions League this season and another very rich team come in with a contract offer, we may see a vacancy open up in the Spanish capital – it wouldn’t be the first time. This is made even more valid by the fact that Real Madrid’s managers tend to have short managerial tenures, often lasting a year at most. Finally, Klopp is no stranger to the Madrid leadership as his candidacy for the managerial job was reportedly considered before the club signed Ancelotti in 2013. For these reasons, odds-makers and pundits have placed Real Madrid as Klopp’s second most likely destination.
1 Manchester City
With an array of wealth, somewhat unrealistic expectations from year-to-year and a growing reputation for chewing up managers and spitting them out, Manchester City are, in many ways, Real Madrid-lite. Seen as the key to this summer’s managerial movement, City’s seemingly inevitable sacking of Manuel Pellegrini will get the ball rolling and, depending on which headlines you believe, bring in one of three high profile names. For at least a month, Pellegrini has been a dead-man-walking as City have crashed out of Europe and slid down the table where they currently sit fourth following an embarrassing defeat to Manchester United. The British press have been vocal in announcing that the likely replacements for the Chilean are Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola, Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti and Jurgen Klopp.
Most odds makers have Klopp as the favorite to lead the sky blues next season by a significant margin. This is likely because the club reportedly offered him the job before hiring Pellegrini in 2013. That said, logic would suggest that Ancelotti is the practical choice here. After all, the Italian has considerable experience in nearly all of Europe’s biggest leagues and has even managed with domestic success in England with Chelsea. Statistically speaking, given Pelligrini is likely nearing the end as manager at City and previous contender Klopp is available, it makes sense for now that the position is being linked to the German coach.