Xabi Alonso, Ruben Amorim, Thiago Motta: The next wave of managers ready for the spotlight

Published on: 16 May 2024

Open Extended ReactionsOnly a few managers can be considered among the best, but here's a look at some -- such as Thiago Motta, Xabi Alonso and Ruben Amorim, from left -- who could be on their way to becoming bigger household names. ESPN Illustration

The manager might arguably be the most important person at any soccer club, but only a handful of them can be considered household names. However, if you take a look at the dugouts around the Champions League, Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and Primeira Liga, you'll see a whole crop of coaches who could one day be the next world-famous figureheads of elite teams.

Some have already won league titles and major trophies with their current clubs, while others have shown they can compete with, and even beat, the traditional powerhouses despite working with less-heralded players and fewer resources. They might have taken all the knowledge and wisdom gleaned from the world's best coaches during glittering playing careers and applied it successfully to their own managerial styles, or they could have soaked up all they know from the sideline having failed to make the grade on the pitch.

But all of them have put themselves in the conversation for a job at one or more of the biggest clubs in Europe whenever they make their next moves. Who will replace Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich this summer? Or fill the shoes of Carlo Ancelotti when he inevitably steps down as Real Madrid boss?

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Arne Slot will be the first cab off the rank. Sources have told ESPN that the 45-year-old is close to taking over for Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool a year after winning the Dutch Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven.

Here is a look at Slot and 10 other managers who could soon be joining him at football's top table, with details on their signature styles of play, their biggest achievements to date and which clubs they have already been linked with.

XABI ALONSO (Bayer Leverkusen, 42 years old)

Style of play: Attacking football with a lot of movement, a high defensive line and a lot of possession in a 3-4-2-1 formation most of the time.

Biggest achievement to date: Have you watched Leverkusen this season? Alonso & Co. won the Bundesliga title this year with a few games to spare in his first full season as a manager. His team is also in the German Cup final and the Europa League final later this month while still unbeaten in 50 games so far this season.

Clubs linked with: Liverpool and Bayern Munich wanted him badly, while Real Madrid eye him as the successor of Carlo Ancelotti when he will decide to leave. But Alonso chose to stay at Leverkusen for at least another season.

Xabi Alonso has achieved a historic season as Bayer Leverkusen manager, helping them win the Bundesliga for the first time in the club's history. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP)

Since Pep Guardiola, we have never seen a manager be so successful in his first full season at a top club. While Guardiola had Lionel Messi and a stellar squad to call upon at Barcelona, Xabi Alonso pretty much had to do it all himself. He took over at the Bayer Arena from Gerardo Seoane when the team was 17th in the table in October 2022 and in crisis. Prior to joining, he'd only managed the Real Sociedad reserve team by then (with mixed results and an average points per game of 1.5 and a 40% win ratio), though his reputation and stock were both sky-high.

When you were one of the best players of your generation with one of the highest football IQs, and you'd been coached by Rafael Benitez, José Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti during your career, you may have seemed destined to becoming a top manager like Mourinho himself tipped Alonso to be. And it's fair to say he's already making history with this incredible 2023-24 season.

His team plays an exciting style of football that he has perfectly implemented with his squad. His recruitment (Victor Boniface, Ale Grimaldo, Granit Xhaka, Nathan Tella, to name just four) has been great, and he's drilled into his squad the same spirit that Alonso himself displayed when Liverpool won the Champions League in Istanbul back in 2005. Leverkusen have been the kings of late goals and late comebacks this season thanks to the mentality instilled by their fantastic manager. -- Julien Laurens

RÚBEN AMORIM (Sporting CP, 39)

Style of play: Amorim is committed to a 3-4-3 system, anchored at the back by former Liverpool defender Sebastián Coates, with wing-backs expected to cover the entirety of their flanks. In midfield, Amorim deploys two box-to-box midfielders behind a front three led by a traditional No. 9. This season, Sweden forward Viktor Gyökeres has helped to deliver the Portuguese title with 27 goals and 10 assists in 32 games.

Biggest achievement to date: Amorim ended Sporting's 19-year wait for a domestic title in 2020-21 and broke the Benfica-Porto duopoly in the Primeira Liga. He has backed that up by winning the title again this season.

Clubs linked with: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, West Ham United

Rúben Amorim has led Sporting CP to two Portuguese league titles, which has attracted interest from other European clubs. (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images)

Amorim is the rising star of Portuguese coaching and is tipped to follow the likes of José Mourinho, André Villas-Boas, Marco Silva and Nuno Espírito Santo by securing a job in one of Europe's most high-profile leagues. The former Benfica and Portugal midfielder said this month that he was committed to one more season at Sporting after guiding the team to the Primeira Liga title. But having been high on the wanted list of Liverpool and West Ham, Amorim could yet be prised away from the Lisbon club this summer if a team is prepared to pay his €15m release clause.

Amorim is a strong character all too willing to defy authority. During his playing days at Benfica, he clashed with coach Jorge Jesus over team selection and refused to train with the nonplaying squad. During his first coaching job at third-tier Casa Pia, Amorim was given a one-year suspension by the Portuguese Football Federation for giving match instructions without having the coaching qualifications to do so; although the suspension was subsequently lifted, he resigned from his post.

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His big break came with Braga, where he won the Taça de Portugal in 2021 with victory against Porto in the final before Sporting triggered a €10m release clause to hire him as coach. Amorim's eye for talent saw Sporting sign Pedro Porro, João Palhinha and João Mário before ending the club's lengthy title drought. Amorim also won the domestic cup again with Sporting, and was sent to the stands for arguing with opposition coach Carlos Carvalhal on the touchline.

Amorim's success in overcoming Benfica and Porto to establish Sporting as Portugal's top team has made him the target of many top clubs, but his refusal to compromise on his 3-4-3 system could prove to be a weakness as much as a strength going forward. -- Mark Ogden

SÉRGIO CONCEIÇÃO (FC Porto, 49)

Style of play: Fast, direct, aggressive football, pressing high and keeping a high defensive line. In Portugal's Primeira Liga, Porto dominate possession and play on the front foot, but as they showed against Arsenal in the Champions League this season, they're also willing to be ruthlessly pragmatic.

Biggest achievement to date: Porto hadn't won the league in four years when Conceição took over in 2017, with Benfica threatening to match Porto's record of five in a row. Conceição changed all that. Despite UEFA-imposed Financial Fair Play restrictions that severely limited their ability in the transfer market, Porto won the league at a canter in 2017-18, with two more titles in 2020 and 2022. He has also led them to the Champions League quarterfinals twice, going toe-to-toe with bigger clubs.

Clubs linked with: Conceição was linked to AC Milan in early May. A source told ESPN that he was ready to move from Porto this summer after seven years in charge, targeting a big club in Europe's top five leagues.

Sérgio Conceição's pragmatic style of play as Porto manager has attracted interest from some of the biggest clubs in Italy. (Photo by Daniel Castro/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Conceição made his name as a hardworking Serie A winger in the late 90s, playing for Lazio as well as Parma and Inter Milan, and working with coaches Sven-Göran Eriksson and Hector Cuper. He starred for Portugal at Euro 2000 and briefly worked under Mourinho at Porto before retiring in 2009 and turning to coaching. After some stormy, brief managerial spells, his time at Porto has been an unequivocal success.

Conceição has won 10 trophies with Porto, a tally only Jorge Jesus can match in Portuguese football, and holds the Portuguese record for most points won in a season, 91. He is demanding, intense and passionate, and that's reflected in his teams. "Porto are like their coach," Diego Simeone -- who also played alongside Conceição at Lazio -- said in 2022. "They're enthusiastic, they're alive, they're energetic. They're intense in attack and defence. They work together and that makes them competitive."

Conceição has dealt effectively with Porto's limited resources and often idiosyncratic senior management, helping develop young players who often move to big clubs for a significant profit: think Éder Militão (Real Madrid), Luis Díaz (Liverpool), Fabio Vieira (Arsenal) and Vitinha (PSG), among many others.

Conceição signed a new contract at Porto last month, but a source has told ESPN that he has the right to release himself from that deal if he wishes. He would like to take over a club with a more realistic chance of winning the Champions League, and which has a more clearly defined, professional structure in which the coach can focus on coaching. -- Alex Kirkland

ROBERTO DE ZERBI (Brighton & Hove Albion, 44)

Style of play: As he told ESPN last year, De Zerbi's philosophy is: "I like to keep the ball, to enjoy the ball, to try every game to be protagonists on the pitch, working with passion, working with ambition and working towards a dream." Brighton forward Danny Welbeck, meanwhile, says: "Everybody has to be in sync."

De Zerbi's formations switch between 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-2-4, but whichever setup he uses, it revolves around the ability to build up from the back and transition quickly to the opposition box, swarming, pressing and playing with high intensity.

Biggest achievement to date: Guiding Sassuolo into the top eight of Serie A across both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons was a remarkable achievement, but taking Brighton to sixth in the Premier League last season and qualifying them for the Europa League tops the bill.

Clubs linked with: De Zerbi has been linked with most of the top jobs in Europe, from Bayern to Barcelona. His name has also been mentioned in connection with Liverpool, Chelsea (where uncertainty continues to surround Mauricio Pochettino), Juventus and Napoli.

Roberto de Zerbi's Brighton side has helped elevate the Seagulls among the elite in the Premier League. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola has long been a De Zerbi evangelist. When he joined Brighton back in September 2022, Guardiola said the Italian was "changing many things in English football." The feeling is mutual; De Zerbi has taken inspiration from Guardiola, too. The players themselves talk about De Zerbi's ability to motivate them and his midmatch tactical tweaks. They see the passion he exudes on the touchline, as well as the ease with which he can shift his teams into different formations. Fundamentally, his teams try to suffocate opponents, building up from the back with Guardiola previously hailing the way De Zerbi's team progresses from goalkeeper to the final third in a blink of an eye.

De Zerbi's playing career saw him start with AC Milan and live a nomadic life on loan across Italy, primarily playing in Serie B. His coaching career began with a short-lived spell at Palermo, but it was at Sassuolo where he earned his reputation by leading them twice to a top-half finish in Serie A. There he lived and slept football, having a notepad by the side of his bed in case some tactical inspiration slipped into a dream.

He joined Shakhtar Donetsk in 2021 but left in July 2022 as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and ended up taking charge of Brighton early in the 2022-23 campaign. He led the Seagulls to sixth in the Premier League, qualification for Europa League and last season's FA Cup semifinal.

This season has been a little tougher at Brighton with their squad stretched because of their run to the Europa League round of 16, and they sit in 10th. After their 3-0 defeat to Bournemouth, De Zerbi bemoaned the injuries they've suffered but also the squad's lack of motivation. "In this moment, too many points from European qualification, we are working for an unclear target, but I can't accept a game without soul," he said.

De Zerbi has asked for clarity over his future and the club's ambitions, saying back in March that he was keen to hold talks -- his contract runs through 2026. But then he was vague in April regarding his future. "I have not decided to leave, it is not the right time yet to decide anything," he said. The indication is that Brighton expects him to stay, but the relationship is more strained. His summer prospects are probably dependent on (a) which jobs are available and (b) his relationship with Brighton. -- Tom Hamilton

FRANCESCO FARIOLI (Nice, 35)

Style of play: In his first foray into coaching, Farioli developed a reputation in Turkey for risk-filled attacking play. He has shown more defensive acumen since arriving in France in 2023 in an encouraging sign that he is becoming a more balanced coach. The Italian also has shown he likes a 3-4-3 formation, asking his defensive midfielder to drop into the backline as the full-backs push forward.

Biggest achievement to date: Without a doubt becoming the youngest coach in a top-tier European league. At 31 years old, he took over at Fatih Karagümrük in March 2021 before landing a major job, again in Turkey, with Alanyaspor in December of the same year.

Clubs linked with: Farioli has seen his name touted among clubs back in Italy such as Milan and Napoli in addition to elsewhere around Europe, with Ajax and Manchester United also mentioned. Last summer, there were also links with Championship side Sunderland as they looked for a bright young coach to guide their own group of fledglings.

Francesco Farioli has led an impressive Nice side in Ligue 1 with its effective attacking style of play. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Farioli's first steps into the game were as an assistant to Brighton boss De Zerbi. A member of De Zerbi's technical team at Benevento reached out to Farioli after reading an article he wrote for scouting platform WyScout. De Zerbi initially brought Farioli in as his goalkeeping coach and had him by his side at both Benevento and Sassuolo. Farioli's first proper coaching job came at age 31 with Fatih Karagümrük. There, his ultra-attacking style caught the eye of Alanyaspor, who hired him in December of the same year.

Nice were similarly impressed and placed him in charge of a young first-team squad. Since being at the French club, Farioli has added some defensive nous, though it has come at the expense of some attacking vibrance. Farioli also has shown a desire for his full-backs to not only become inverted (moving centrally and overloading the midfield while in possession) but also provide overlaps, while requiring his goalkeeper and centre-backs to be confident in possession.

Nice went unbeaten this season until December, and they have managed wins away at both Monaco and PSG. They're still in hot contention for European football next season, sitting fifth (and automatic Europa League qualification) with a four-point gap to fourth-place Brest and two games left. (If they can finish fourth, that would put them in the Champions League).

As the man himself stated, "When Plan A doesn't work, you need a better Plan A," confirming Farioli is very much a manager of principles and belief in his philosophy. His coaching influences are also interesting, with Farioli naming the more defensive-minded Arrigo Sacchi and Mourinho as the coaches he looks up to, though he also dropped in his admiration for Guardiola's Barcelona and Johan Cruyff's Ajax. That Farioli has shown his awareness of defending with more responsibility this season, it suggests he is preparing for life at a major club where the demands are greater when it comes to be being flexible tactically. -- David Cartlidge

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THOMAS FRANK (Brentford, 50)

Style of play: Brentford switch between a 3-5-2 and 4-3-3 formation, both with attacking intentions. They play with pace and verticality, priding themselves on set piece excellence. Under Frank's tactics, their wing-backs get plenty of miles under their belt, not afraid to hit teams on the counter, but are equally adept at focusing play through the middle, with Frank usually favouring a defensive anchor paired with two energetic box-to-box midfielders.

Biggest achievement to date: Brentford's promotion to the Premier League in 2021 was a defining moment with their return to the top flight for the first time in 74 years.

Clubs linked with: Frank has been mentioned as a possible successor to Klopp while also having been named as a possible contender for Manchester United as they weigh up Erik ten Hag's future.

Thomas Frank has been able to transform Brentford's successes since being promoted to the Premier League in 2021. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)

Frank's coaching career started in the youth sides of the Denmark national team setup -- while doubling up as a teacher -- and he worked his way up to managing their under-19 men's team before taking charge of Brøndby in 2013. Over the course of three seasons, he led them into Europe twice before leaving in March 2016. By December of the same year, he was assistant coach at Brentford, charged with bridging the gap between the B team and the first team, before taking over from Dean Smith in October 2018. He led them to the Championship playoff final in 2020 and secured promotion a year later.

In his first season in the Premier League, they finished in 13th. Then they finished ninth last term despite having the lowest wage budget in the league, according to a Capology study. Frank also has adapted brilliantly to Brentford's data-led approach to recruitment, working with the signings brought in. But it is his unflappable nature, his incredible ability to improve players across his squad and his ruthlessly efficient style of high-energy play on the field that has seen him win so many admirers.

"Thomas is a very honest person," said Brentford's on-loan left-back Sergio Reguilón. "I love the way he talks to everyone, to you, the players. I love him."

Klopp said earlier in the season of Frank: "He's doing a brilliant job there and seems to be very happy there. A while ago, we had a managers meeting, and he could get there by bike, so he likes life in the area. He's a cool guy. I respect him a lot."

Frank has managed to weather anything and everything that has been thrown at him, staying calm throughout. "His strength is his consistency of energy," a source told ESPN. "I'm sure he gets stressed, but he rarely loses it and remains very level-headed."

That's not to say it's been straightforward. Over the past nine months, he lost first-choice goalkeeper David Raya in the summer and chief goal scorer Ivan Toney to an eight-month suspension for breaching betting rules. But Brentford still have managed to secure their top-flight safety despite having a brutal injury list -- including 29 separate substantial absences for key players -- this season.

Frank is signed up with Brentford through to 2027 and isn't agitating for a move, but it's easy to imagine him somewhere bigger in the future. "I think we all have kind of an ego, and the ego likes that little bit of sugar, but at the end of the day, I'm at Brentford. I'm very happy here," Frank said in February. "Do I have ambitions? Yes. Am I going to stay at Brentford forever? Maybe, but probably not. What I know is that I'm here at Brentford and I'm very happy with it." -- Hamilton

SEBASTIAN HOENEß (VfB Stuttgart, 42)

Style of play: Lots of verticality, plus quick forward projections and transitions with an aggressive press in a 4-4-2 formation.

Biggest achievement to date: His Stuttgart side is third in the table and he won the third-division title with the Bayern reserve team four years ago.

Clubs linked with: His name was very high on the Bayern Munich shortlist to replace Thomas Tuchel in the summer, but he decided to sign a new deal at Stuttgart.

Sebastian Hoeneß was able to transform a Stuttgart side barely escaping relegation into a side going to the UEFA Champions League in one season. (Photo by Tom Weller/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Hoeneß is not a name easy to carry in Germany. Sebastian will never be the most famous Hoeneß in German football -- that honor goes to his uncle, Uli, for his exploits as a player and Bayern Munich president -- but he is making a (first) name for himself. Outside of Alonso, Hoeneß has been the best coach in the Bundesliga this season, and it's not been close.

After arriving at Stuttgart in April 2023 and finishing 16th, he changed the team and its fortunes completely to make it one of the best in the country. After doing well with the Bayern Munich youth and reserve teams, and a decent first season in charge at Hoffenheim (picking up 1.4 points per game from 2020 to 2022), Stuttgart was a big job, and he rose to the occasion. His team has been super efficient in all areas of the pitch -- in particular their attack, where Serhou Guirassy and Denis Undav have been superb. He made every player improve individually while collectively, his team was resilient and well drilled.

Taking this side into next season's Champions League feels like a trophy for him, though bigger and better things surely await him. Maybe he'll team up with his uncle at Bayern one day, but for now he'll continue building his own path. -- Laurens

KIERAN MCKENNA (Ipswich Town, 38)

Style of play: When McKenna took charge of Ipswich in December 2021, with the team 12th in League One, he made clear his determination to revive the team by instilling a possession-based game at the club. He has retained that philosophy and secured back-to-back promotions.

Biggest achievement to date: McKenna ended Ipswich's 22-year absence from the Premier League by winning promotion from the Championship this season -- an achievement made even more impressive because the team received promotion from League One only 12 months earlier.

Clubs linked with: Brighton, Celtic, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Manchester United.

Back-to-back promotions for Ipswich Town is down to the philosophy of manager Kieran McKenna. (Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

Having progressed through the youth ranks at Tottenham Hotspur, McKenna was forced to retire at the age of 22 without making a senior appearance as a result of a hip injury. Determined to make a career in football, the Northern Irishman earned a sports science degree at Loughborough University before working as a youth team coach at Tottenham, Nottingham Forest, Leicester and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

McKenna returned to Spurs, moving through the coaching ranks to become head of the club's under-18 teams until he was hired by Manchester United to assume the same role at Old Trafford. His work with the United youngsters caught the eye of then-manager Mourinho, who promoted McKenna to first-team coaching duties following the departure of longtime assistant Rui Faria in 2018. When Mourinho was fired in December 2018, incoming manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer retained McKenna within his first-team coaching group.

During Solskjaer's turbulent three-year period in charge, United offered to recruit a more experienced coach to bolster the coaching setup -- both McKenna and fellow coach Michael Carrick were viewed as being novices -- but Solskjaer rejected the proposal, insisting that he had a "world-class" coaching team with McKenna and Carrick. Following Solskjaer's exit in November 2021, McKenna worked under interim manager Ralf Rangnick for a month before being hired by Ipswich. His two promotions at Portman Road have earmarked McKenna as a rising star in management, but having secured Premier League football by winning promotion, McKenna is expected to remain at Ipswich next season rather than seeking a move elsewhere.

"I love it here," McKenna said as Ipswich celebrated promotion. "There's some big and exciting steps to come." -- Ogden

MÍCHEL (Girona, 48)

Style of play: Attack-minded, fluid, passing football. Girona are the second-highest scorers in LaLiga this season -- one goal behind Real Madrid -- but that positive approach means they concede goals, too. The team's shape frequently shifts. Michel often favours a back four but can switch to three at the back, depending on the opposition.

Biggest achievement to date: Taking Girona into LaLiga's top four -- at the time of writing they're second, a point ahead of Barcelona -- and, while it lasted, mounting a credible title challenge up against two giants with bigger, better squads and much higher wage bills.

Clubs linked with: Girona's success -- and playing style -- has seen Michel talked about as a future Barca coach. He's also been linked with potential summer vacancies at Manchester United and Chelsea, and Girona's membership of the City Group makes him an obvious candidate to eventually succeed Guardiola.

Girona's qualification to the UEFA Champions League has been down to the high-scoring attacking style from manager Míchel. (Photo By Ricardo Larreina/Europa Press via Getty Images)

As a player, Michel was a hero at Rayo Vallecano, a talented midfielder regarded as one of the best players in the modest club's history. As a coach, he made his name at Rayo too, getting them promoted to LaLiga in 2018 before being sacked the next season. He repeated the trick at Huesca the following year, winning them promotion, but failing to see out the campaign in Primera.

At Girona, his profile as a coach has skyrocketed. Having acquired a reputation as a promotion specialist, he was brought in in 2021 and charged with getting Girona back into the first division after two failed attempts. Surviving an early rough patch, they won promotion -- Michel's third as a coach -- through the playoffs.

A solid, midtable finish in 2023 to consolidate Girona's position in the top flight was a prelude to this season's blockbuster campaign. Girona stunned Spanish football by going top of LaLiga last fall and threatening to break up the Madrid/Barca duopoly. They couldn't sustain that title push, unable to keep pace with Madrid in the second half of the season, but it's still been a campaign packed with highlights. Two league wins over Barcelona -- beating them 4-2 home and away -- stand out.

Michel's next challenge will be repeating Girona's success in 2024-25, now that they're no longer a surprise, and -- provided UEFA approve their involvement, given the City connection -- overseeing their debut campaign in the Champions League. -- Kirkland

THIAGO MOTTA (Bologna, 41)

Style of play: The former Barcelona, Inter and PSG man has become synonymous with a high possession style of play, preaching positive, fluid football that overawes opponents. As with many coaches these days, there is also a strong emphasis on winning back the ball high up the pitch.

Biggest achievement to date: Not only did Bologna secure a European place for the first time in 22 years, but the Rossoblù will be making that bow in the Champions League no less.

Clubs linked with: Juventus are the club to which he's most often linked, and many reports have gone as far as to suggest a deal has already been struck to land Motta. Chelsea and Manchester United are the others mentioned.

Bologna have been one of the surprise packages in Serie A thanks in part to Thiago Motta's high possession, fluid style of play. (Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Motta's success has not been without a few bumps in the road. His first job at Genoa ended with him being fired after the club slumped to last place in Serie A. At Spezia, however, he showed more of his burgeoning talent as a coach. Despite nearly sacking him, the club persisted with Motta, who repaid them by helping Spezia escape relegation.

Bologna has been nothing but a major success for Motta, however, where he's showcased an extremely fluid, energetic brand of football. Italian legend Fabio Capello believes there is a heavy Spanish tactical influence on Motta's approach, following his time as a player there with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. However, having worked under Mourinho and cult coaching figure Gian Piero Gasperini, it's clear Motta has looked to take something from every coach he's worked with. The versatility and flexibility in his approach must be admired.

If Juventus are to break away from the Massimiliano Allegri era, there wouldn't be a coach more further removed from the Italian's gruelling on the eye style. A young squad with high technical ability as well as strong physical characteristics is clearly when Motta does his best work. -- Cartlidge

ARNE SLOT (Feyenoord, 45)

Style of play: Slot is a 4-3-3 coach, which is a key factor in his emergence as Liverpool's choice to succeed Klopp as manager at Anfield. Feyenoord play an aggressive, high-energy attacking brand of football and, again like Liverpool, play to win possession quickly when losing the ball in the attacking third of the pitch.

Biggest achievement to date: Domestically, Slot's biggest success was guiding Feyenoord to the Eredivisie title -- the club's second Dutch championship this century -- in 2022-23. Guiding the Rotterdam-based team to the Europa Conference League final in 2022, before losing to Mourinho's Roma in Tirana, embellished his reputation on the European stage.

Clubs linked with: Slot was mentioned in relation to a string of clubs (from Leeds United to Tottenham, Chelsea and Bayern Munich) but he is expected to be announced as Liverpool's new manager in the coming days.

play1:35Laurens: Arne Slot 'ticks all the boxes' for Liverpool

Julien Laurens reacts to the news that Liverpool and Feyenoord have reached an compensation agreement for Arne Slot to take the reins at Anfield.

Slot had an unremarkable career as a midfielder, making more than 450 appearances in the Netherlands with four different clubs, but he never made it to one of the Eredivisie's big three (Ajax, Feyenoord or PSV Eindhoven). Regarded as a player with passing vision and creativity rather than a physical, box-to-box midfielder, Slot started his coaching career as a youth coach with PEC Zwolle after ending his playing days in 2013. But his coaching career has been a slow burn, with Slot moving to second division side Cambuur after a year at Zwolle, becoming an assistant to a succession of coaches before being appointed joint-coach with Sipke Hulshoff in October 2016.

Despite guiding Cambuur to the Dutch Cup semifinals for the first time in 2017, Slot relinquished his joint-manager role to take another assistant coach position at AZ Alkmaar and it wasn't until the start of the 2019-20 season that he would be appointed as head coach, when he stepped up at AZ following the departure of John van den Brom. With his first season halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Slot was then fired by AZ in December 2020 after negotiating a deal to join Feyenoord. Although his time in Alkmaar was relatively brief, his average haul of 2.11 points per game was the highest in AZ's Eredivisie history.

Slot's 3½ years at Feyenoord have coincided with a revival of the club's fortunes, with success in the league and cup as well as the run to the Europa Conference League final, but he will move to Liverpool having managed just six games in the Champions League, losing four and winning two.

Unlike fellow Dutch coach Erik ten Hag, who left Ajax for Manchester United in 2022, Slot is an ebullient character, fluent in English and one who prioritises creating a bond with the supporters of the club he coaches. In that respect, he shares characteristics with the man he will replace at Liverpool, Klopp, but he will head to Anfield with a clear lack of experience at the highest level of the game. -- Ogden

Source: espn.co.uk

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