Saturday 20 January 2018

Bayern Pep delay seals Klopp's Liverpool deal

David Beckham at Old Trafford to launch the Unicef Match for Children, which will be played on Saturday, November 14 (3.00) when Alex Ferguson will manage a GB and Ireland XI against a World XI led by Zinedine Zidane
David Beckham at Old Trafford to launch the Unicef Match for Children, which will be played on Saturday, November 14 (3.00) when Alex Ferguson will manage a GB and Ireland XI against a World XI led by Zinedine Zidane

Mark Ogden

Jurgen Klopp will succeed Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool manager after being told that he would have to wait until January before discovering whether he would replace Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich.

Klopp, who guided Borussia Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles, a German Cup and runners-up spot in the Champions League before resigning at the end of last season after seven years in charge, had been widely tipped in Germany to succeed Guardiola as Bayern coach when the Spaniard's three-year contract expires next summer.

With Bayern determined to persuade Guardiola to extend his contract, however, the German champions are now prepared to wait until the new year before making a firm decision on their coaching position.

While Klopp is understood to have identified Bayern as the perfect club with which to return to management following his self-imposed sabbatical, the risk of waiting until January and then discovering that Guardiola was prepared to stay prompted the 48-year-old to embrace the challenge of reviving Liverpool.

Klopp, who is a known admirer of Liverpool's summer signings Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino, is poised to be confirmed as new Anfield supremo later this week.

Talks yesterday were merely to fine-tune a three-year contract and he could arrive on Merseyside tomorrow ahead of a potential unveiling on Friday.


Liverpool's success in persuading Klopp to leave Germany is regarded as a coup by Franz Beckenbauer, the Bayern president who had previously backed the former Dortmund coach to take charge at the Allianz Arena.

"He is fantastic," Beckenbauer said. "He is one of the best coaches I know and he was really a milestone for Borussia Dortmund. He took over the club and made them into a world-class team.

"If Liverpool have the chance to sign Jurgen Klopp then they should do it. He is a winner."

Those who know Klopp well say he is a romantic and this is why Liverpool enchants him. He acts on instinct. He listens to the memories that rattle around his consciousness; ones that remain vivid no matter how long they have been there.

Klopp (48) remembers when England's teams dominated Europe. He was a month short of his 10th birthday when, in 1977, Liverpool collected their first European Cup by beating Borussia Mönchengladbach in Rome.

Soon after, Hamburg, Mönchengladbach again and Bayern Munich were dispatched in various European competitions by Liverpool, and Anfield's trophy room needed extending.

His mind is not cluttered. But Klopp remembers. He will have thought about what it was like when he took over at Dortmund in 2008. He will realise that there are some similarities with history and present circumstance at Liverpool. He will recognise the differences, too.

Guardiola, meanwhile, has maintained a neutral stance on his future, insisting only that he will honour his contract with the German champions.

Bayern have been bullish about their chances of retaining the former Barcelona coach, however. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the club's chief executive, said last month he was "definitely optimistic that Pep will stay beyond June 30, 2016".

Bayern are aware of Manchester City's determination to recruit Guardiola and the coach's close relationship with City's director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano, so Rummenigge and the club's hierarchy are planning talks this month to discuss a contract extension.

With Bayern also wary of losing Guardiola without a top-class replacement lined up, the club have identified January as the deadline for an agreement.

The four-month wait proved too lengthy for Klopp, who could not agree to postpone his return to management on the basis of a possibility at Bayern, but the timescale would suit Carlo Ancelotti, the former AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris St Germain and Real Madrid coach, who is out of work but open to offers from leading clubs.

Guardiola's decision at Bayern, whenever he resolves his future, is likely to have implications for a series of Premier League clubs - most notably City, Manchester United and Arsenal, who have all been closely linked with the 44-year-old in recent seasons.

City's interest is clear and long-standing and, although Manuel Pellegrini signed a contract extension until the end of the 2016-17 season in August, his position would be under threat if Guardiola made himself available next summer.

United had identified Guardiola as their first choice to replace Alex Ferguson following his retirement in May 2013, but Bayern had already secured his services.

With Louis van Gaal insisting that he will retire as manager at the end of his contract in the summer of 2017, United would make a concerted effort to hire Guardiola if he signed a one-year extension at Bayern, therefore making him available at the same time as Van Gaal's planned exit.

Arsenal's situation is less clear-cut. Arsene Wenger has given no hint of walking away, but the club's history, financial strength and London location would appeal to Guardiola. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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