‘I’ve spoken to him…’: Ballon D’Or winner tips 45-year-old for Liverpool job after Tottenham snub

Jurgen Klopp’s managerial story is one of continuous improvement. Of a man who proved himself at a lower level, at a club with lower expectations, and then gradually climbed the ladder, from Mainz to Borussia Dortmund and, eventually, to Liverpool.

Klopp’s journey shares a few similarities, certainly, with a coach one former Ballon d’Or winner feels would be a potentially inspired replacement in the Anfield dugout.

In his first coaching role, the Dutchman turned AZ Alkmaar into one of the most watchable sides in the Eredivisie. If the 2019/20 season had not been terminated due to the COVID pandemic, AZ might just have snatched the title from under Ajax’s nose.

It would not take long for Arne Slot to get his hands on the Eredivisie trophy, however. Like Klopp at Dortmund, Slot woke something of a sleeping giant from its slumber, guiding Feyenoord to only their second league title since the turn of the Century.

The natural next step, Marco van Basten feels, is one of the continent’s A-list clubs, the Dutch legend is confident that Slot can step into even Klopp’s massive shoes.

Feyenoord manager Arne Slot tipped for Liverpool job

“I think Slot is really good,” Van Basten, the AC Milan icon, tells Ziggo Sport. “I hope he stays in the Netherlands longer, because it is an enrichment for Dutch football. (But) he can go anywhere. Bayern Munich, Liverpool… I’m really convinced of that.

“I’ve spoken to him a few times, and he handles the player groups very well. Of course, he is also very well-versed tactically.

“I can explain his ideas well. He is calm and intelligent. As far as I am concerned, he is a top coach. I think he can go to any club, even difficult clubs. He is very smart in his choice of words.”

Interestingly, HITC understands that Slot could follow in Klopp’s footsteps, not at Liverpool but at Dortmund. The 45-year-old, who’s free-flowing attacking style has been likened to Pep Guardiola’s, is one of the candidates to succeed Edin Terzic at the German giants, alongside Graham Potter.

“He has a lot of qualities and he shows it at every level,” adds Van Basten, a Ballon D’Or winner on no fewer than three occasions. “He first did it at AZ, and now at Feyenoord. And Feyenoord is a really complicated club. He has been doing well for three years, while PSV and Ajax have much more options in terms of money.

“It could really fit anywhere. If you get AZ and Feyenoord to play football, you also get big clubs like AC Milan to play football. You can clearly see his hand wherever he is the coach.

“I think it will even be easier for him at a higher level, because he has better players who understand his ideas faster. In the end, I also think he is smart enough to manage stubborn players.”

Liverpool’s options may be dwindling already

Slot, once labelled the ‘best coach in the world‘ by Feyenoord winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh, turned down Leeds United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur back in 2023. He distanced himself from those Liverpool rumors immediately after Klopp announced his departure.

Liverpool’s pursuit of a new manager, meanwhile, is proving to be somewhat more difficult than expected.

Xabi Alonso, their first-choice target, is staying at Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen. Ruben Amorim is now in talks with West Ham – he may have reservations about potentially becoming Liverpool’s David Moyes or Unai Emery – while Julian Nagelsmann extended his contract with the German national team until after the 2026 World Cup.