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Xabi Alonso says he is staying with Bayer Leverkusen in end to Liverpool and Bayern speculation

Xabi Alonso will stay as coach of Bayer Leverkusen, ending speculation linking him with the soon-to-be vacant Liverpool and Bayern Munich jobs.

“This is the right place for me to be, to develop as a coach,” Alonso said Friday, adding that his squad’s drive to succeed was a key reason to remain.

“They gave me so many reasons to keep believing in the team, for their commitment, for their desire, for their hunger to have a great season. I feel that my job is not over here,” the 42-year-old Alonso said.

“I want to help the team and I want to help the young players to develop. And if I am part of the process, I’m happy with that. So putting all the things together, this important decision, hopefully, I’m convinced is the right one. I’m happy. I’m still young, so time will tell, but right now I feel like that.”

Alonso said he reflected on his future during the recent international break before informing Leverkusen.

Leverkusen is on course for its first German title, 10 points clear in the Bundesliga with eight games remaining. Leverkusen, which was in the relegation zone when Alonso took charge in October 2022, is still unbeaten in all competitions this season.

That record has made Alonso one of the most sought-after coaches in world soccer. He has two more seasons left on his contract at Leverkusen. It’s the first head coach job of Alonso’s career and he emphasized he believes he’s still learning as he goes.

The former Spain midfielder was a player for both Bayern and Liverpool. Both clubs are seeking new coaches for next season. Bayern is parting company with Thomas Tuchel, in part because it lags so far behind Alonso’s Leverkusen, while Jürgen Klopp is stepping down as Liverpool manager after nine years.

Alonso didn’t say how much contact, if any, he had with Bayern or Liverpool.

“I think that it wouldn’t be correct for me to talk about other clubs when they are in this situation, for sure. They are clubs that I have a strong link (with), I play there, so I respect them, but it’s not correct for me to talk about them right now,” he said. ”It’s more about the conviction that I have that I am in the right place in Bayer Leverkusen and that I want to keep growing with the club, growing with the players, learning from them.”

Alonso added that he wants to help build Leverkusen into a Champions League contender, with its return to Europe’s top competition all but certain for next season.

In Liverpool, Klopp said he understood Alonso’s decision, having been in a similar situation. The German had extended his stay at Borussia Dortmund in 2013 despite interest from other clubs.

“I had a similar situation and did pretty much the same, and never regretted it,” Klopp said at a news conference ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League match against Brighton on Sunday. “The club is doing an incredible job there. Leverkusen has a good team, probably will keep the team together. It’s not in all years like that. So I understand that he wants to do that.”

Leverkusen’s next game is against Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Saturday. That kicks off a run of eight games in 29 days as Leverkusen also plays in the German Cup semifinals against Fortuna Düsseldorf and in the Europa League quarterfinals against West Ham.


AP soccer: https://ift.tt/mCWTk2s

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