'Real supporter' - Liverpool manager candidate who Jurgen Klopp 'respects' highly is targeted by Chelsea

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The search for Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp successor is likely to be a difficult process.

Roberto De Zerbi, one of the frontrunners for the Liverpool job, has emerged as a target for Chelsea following their defeat in the EFL Cup final.

Liverpool triumphed over Mauricio Pochettino's side with a last-gasp winning header from Virgil van Dijk at the end of extra-time at Wembley as Jurgen Klopp secured another trophy at the club to kick off his farewell tour. The German boss will step down at the end of the season and he will be hoping to add to their trophy collection as they remain in the running to win three other competitions.

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For Chelsea, they missed out on the chance to win their first trophy since 2021 and it was an opportunity for Pochettino to provide a much-needed morale boost for the club and for the fans. Considering their current league position (11th) and the cup final defeat, pressure is starting to mount as Chelsea begin to look for alternative options.

One of those could be Liverpool candidate De Zerbi, who The Athletic earmarked as one of the key options for Klopp's successor alongside Bayern Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso and German manager Julian Nagelsmann. Italian journalist Nicolo Schira has claimed that Chelsea are monitoring the manager for a potential summer move, having already snapped up Brighton's former boss Graham Potter prior to Pochettino's arrival.

Chelsea have already spent over £225m on 10 deals with people contracted to Brighton across the past year - both on and off-the-pitch. Not only has Moises Caicedo and Marc Cucurella arrived, Todd Boehly greenlit the decision to trigger Potter's £21m buyout clause after Thomas Tuchel's sacking as well as a handful of other staff such as scouts, player recruitment and backroom staff - and it stands to reason that De Zerbi could be another viable move given their struggles.

De Zerbi's style of play has been hailed by Klopp in the past, such as after their 2-2 draw in October at the Amex Stadium, with the Liverpool boss revealing he could not respect the Italian anymore for his efforts with the club. “I have to say I could not respect more what he is doing,” said Klopp. “I’m a real supporter of it, I’m a football lover and if someone comes in with the impact he has on football, that shouldn’t be underestimated."

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