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9 Mar, 2021 12:04

‘Klopp will go to Germany’: Rumor mill around Liverpool boss hits overdrive as Joachim Low shocks football by announcing departure

‘Klopp will go to Germany’: Rumor mill around Liverpool boss hits overdrive as Joachim Low shocks football by announcing departure

Joachim Low, the longest-serving current international coach, has sent shockwaves through football by revealing he is about to leave Germany – and that could give beleaguered boss Jurgen Klopp a way out of his Liverpool nightmare.

Approaching 14 years in charge ahead of Euro 2020 this summer, Low had been expected to see out the end of his contract next year despite an uncertain run since winning the 2014 World Cup that included being knocked out of the 2018 World Cup in Russia at the group stage.

The 61-year-old has now decided to end his deal after the Euro, leading to inevitable speculation that Klopp, whose spectacular current struggles at Anfield reached a new low when Liverpool suffered a sixth successive home defeat against relegation-threatened Fulham on Sunday, could succeed him.

Klopp has always been considered a strong likely future candidate to lead his home nation. At 53, though, the title winner with Liverpool last season would have been expected to have many more years in club management ahead of him.

That has all changed in just a few months, with Klopp cutting an increasingly troubled figure in post-match interviews and appearing to scramble in real time to understand how his side have gone from favorites to retain their crown to outsiders for a Champions League place since December.

Liverpool owners FSG are thought to be fully behind Klopp, but Champions League qualification – which requires finishing in the top four of the Premier League or winning this season's competition – is considered a minimum requirement for most managers at a club of the Reds' stature.

Klopp's deserved legendary status at the club should earn him more time even if that is not achieved. His demeanor, though, has raised questions around whether he may feel his hugely successful tenure may have run its course.

"End of an era," said one fan, responding to the DFB's surprise announcement on Tuesday.

"Can't imagine Germany without Joachim Low. Klopp should be the next manager."

Even for international heavyweights like Germany, the capture of Klopp would be a coup that would have seemed unthinkable at the start of the season.

The instalment of under-21s boss Stefan Kuntz as frontrunner for the vacancy seems sensible given that Germany have tended to seek continuity in past appointments, although Klopp is not far behind as the early second-favorite with bookmakers.

Julian Nagelsmann, who is seeking an upset with his RB Leipzig team at Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday, is said to have discounted himself from the candidates.

A further intriguing subplot to the announcement is the debate around Liverpool hero Steven Gerrard's potential to succeed Klopp.

Talk of Klopp leaving has accelerated just two days after rookie manager Gerrard earned his first domestic title as a coach, leading Scottish Premiership giants Rangers to league glory for the first time in 10 years.

Just as Klopp has insisted he has unfinished business at Liverpool, so Gerrard has told reporters that the triumph is the first of many he anticipates in Glasgow. Yet it is hard to imagine the 40-year-old, who has made an impressive start to his managerial career, turning down the club where he is idolised and spent almost his entire playing career, winning the FA Cup twice and the Champions League.

"This is the end," a Rangers fan gloomily predicted. "Klopp will go to Germany, Gerrard will go to Liverpool and we’ll end up with [sacked Aberdeen manager Derek] McInnes. I genuinely live in fear of [Gerrard] leaving us daily."

Gerrard has been linked to roles in the second-tier Championship in England and may now bide his time while Klopp's situation develops.

Praising Low, the DFB said: "He is one of the greatest coaches in world football. The fact that he informed us about his decision at an early stage is very decent.

"He gives us the necessary time, calm and a sense of proportion to name his successor."

Germany's daunting group at Euro 2020 includes holders Portugal and World Cup winners France.

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