Xabi Alonso has revealed he left Real Madrid for Bayern Munich because he was "curious" to find out Pep Guardiola's coaching secrets.

The 37-year-old swapped clubs in 2014 after five seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, where he won six major trophies.

Alonso left Madrid three months after helping them to Champions League glory and went on to spend three years with Bayern before announcing his playing retirement.

Explaining his reasons for wanting to leave the Spanish giants, Alonso told The Athletic: "I was so curious to find out [Guardiola's] secrets.

"He has a relentless natural enthusiasm. Football seasons are long but right until the very end, Pep never seemed to be tired. 

"He was alert, always ready. For the players, maybe this gave us an extra few metres in our legs when it mattered most."

Alonso, who took over as Real Sociedad B head coach in June, also praised the work of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

The former Spain international, who played against Klopp's Borussia Dortmund side during his time at Madrid and Bayern, said: "I didn't enjoy playing against them because they made it so intense, you'd almost break.

"It was like he wanted you to be in a cage. He wanted to trap you. There was an organised pressure. I was under pressure all the time. 

"I enjoyed the mood around those games because they were so important but the challenge of beating Dortmund was immense."

Jurgen Klopp is unfazed about potentially leading Liverpool to a first FIFA Club World Cup title, but the manager is excited about the opportunity.

The European champions will be favourites for the tournament in Doha in December.

Liverpool have never won the FIFA Club World Cup, finishing as runners-up in 2005, but leading the Premier League giants to a first success at the tournament is not a focus for Klopp.

"Oh, I didn't think about that. I'm not someone who has to be the first on the moon or the first winning the World Cup with Liverpool, but when we are there then we will try with all we have," he told FIFA.com.

"The very interesting and difficult part as well is that we'll be playing against teams from other continents, which doesn't happen that often – maybe a Mexican team, maybe a Brazilian team – and it will be a tough one for sure.

"We'll prepare for it as we would usually, and we will see if it's right or wrong against the team from another continent.

"We don't have too much information yet, but we will by then for sure, and it will be interesting and difficult as well."

Liverpool will play Monterrey, Al-Sadd or Hienghene Sport in the semi-finals on December 18.

Klopp said there was no additional pressure on Liverpool, urging his team to make the most of the chance ahead of them.

"We will see. So far, I don't feel any pressure. I see it as an absolute opportunity as you don't often have the chance to play for it," he said.

"You have to win the Champions League as the European team, so that already makes it special.

"We knew it'd feel great when we won the Champions League, but then we had no real clue how it'd be around the European Super Cup. So, we played it and it felt really great and really big.

"When we go there, we will be prepared and looking forward to it. The boys want to play it, so it will be very interesting, and it will feel big for us, 100 per cent."

"THANK YOU SO MUCH! THANK YOU SO MUCH!"

Pep Guardiola's gargantuan sarcasm when he greeted referee Michael Oliver and his officials at full-time certainly matched the magnitude of a ferocious and frenetic Anfield encounter.

The Manchester City manager had long been in a righteous funk at missed chances and rejected penalty appeals as Liverpool closed out a 3-1 victory that puts them eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.

That's right, eight. Not nine. They're nine points clear of fourth-placed City.

Guardiola probably reached the midway point of his tether as early as the sixth minute. Trent Alexander-Arnold handled in the Liverpool box – the fact Bernardo Silva inadvertently did so just beforehand probably saving the England right-back in the final VAR analysis – and Liverpool played to the whistle to a greater extent than their opponents.

Ilkay Gundogan's clearance was as wretched as Fabinho's strike from outside the box was magnificent.

City picked themselves up off an all-too familiar Merseyside canvas and got back on the front foot. Kevin De Bruyne's deliveries were not to their usual standard but Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero both probably should have scored from them. City's two world-class attacking figureheads are still yet to find the net on this ground.

The 13th minute brought a brutally brilliant second, displaying one the key facets of Liverpool's triumph. Alexander-Arnold toiled under Sterling's examination at times, but his cross-field pass to fellow full-back Andy Robertson was glorious.

Those diagonal balls tested City's makeshift defence all day and Robertson's cross found Mohamed Salah lurking between career midfielder Fernandinho and greenhorn left-back Angelino to head gleefully home.

Guardiola repeated how proud he was of his team's performance after the match and, even if this was primarily a was to avoid an FA ban by giving his own take on Oliver's efforts, it was understandable.

City continued to plug away, Angelino often to the fore in tandem with Sterling down the left and prodding a typically immaculate De Bruyne pass against the post.

But they were vulnerable in the transition as they chased the game and this is Klopp's domain. As in the riotous 4-3 win over City in January last year, Georginio Wijnaldum was magnificent – an indomitable cocktail of power and intelligence, as deft as he was destructive.

Then there was Jordan Henderson, who will surely see this season as a failure if he does not lift the league title Liverpool supporters have pined for over an interminable three decades.

Shifted to the right flank after the break, Henderson's cross for Sadio Mane's third made sure of victory and City's persistent threats during the final half hour, when Bernardo Silva pulled a goal back, were notable for coming after James Milner replaced his captain.

Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain might sit on the bench as more technically astute footballers than Henderson, but they will never exceed his worth to Klopp's cause.

Guardiola was left to lament "the boxes" in his post-match interview following Liverpool's clinical clinic. It was something he pondered often during his first season in charge of City, before back-to-back titles, 198 points, five major trophies and all that.

Another relic of that time, Claudio Bravo, was back. The veteran Chile international was helpless when beaten by Liverpool's first two shots on target - even if Klopp's admission that he encouraged his players to shoot from distance felt telling – but his reaction to Henderson's teasing 51st-minute delivery was atrocious.

Selecting such a strong side to face Atalanta in midweek, losing Ederson in the process, damaged City's chances. As did the decision not to reinforce at centre-back after Vincent Kompany's departure, while rushing back Rodri to protect a patched-up backline he is yet to show he can adequately screen since signing from Atletico Madrid was another questionable move.

Calls made before this weekend went a long way to sealing Guardiola's fate as City's wait for an Anfield win goes on. Liverpool's relentlessness is magnified by the fact his side have slipped slightly and significantly from the peerless heights of the past two seasons.

All it takes is a few mis-steps in these circumstances, so maybe this title race isn't over. But if City do make it three in a row, Guardiola should be bellowing thanks all over again. Liverpool faltering decisively from this position would amount to delivering gift-wrapped glory to Manchester.

Jurgen Klopp acknowledged Liverpool's pulsating 3-1 win over title rivlas Manchester City was "pretty wild".

The clash between the warring teams at Anfield lived up to its billing as a match full of thrills, spills and controversy saw Liverpool emerge victorious to open up an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Fabinho's sixth-minute thunderbolt came shortly after City were incensed not to be awarded a penalty for handball against Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane goals put Liverpool in command before Bernardo Silva's 78th-minute effort for City set up a frantic finale.

Liverpool boss Klopp revelled in taking the points at the end of a barnstorming fixture.

"The intensity of the game was incredible. Pretty wild. For us, it's not too unusual that the game is wild," Klopp said. 

"City usually control the game more - it was not possible against us today, but they were good, oh they were good. We had to defend with all we had. And we scored incredible goals. 

"I really have to think about what I say before the game, because today I asked for finishes from outside the box. I should ask that [more often]. It's my fault that it's probably the first goal from outside the box this season. But Fabinho, what a goal. 

"Then what a counter-attack, what a pass from Robbo [Andy Robertson], what a header from Mo. Giving the game this kind of direction is incredible. It was so tough to play - you saw that - of course the intensity of the game kills you. 

"It's a little bit too long, a football game. We put all that in against an opponent like City. But it was all worth it, eh? It was all worth it. Really great."

City, who are now nine points adrift of Liverpool, turned the screw after Silva's strike and threatened more than once to produce a late revival.

Klopp conceded he was concerned by City's threat but says it was always to be expected.

He added: "Look, we saw the City situations they had. They passed the ball from outside, Raheem Sterling, what a player. The thing is how did we defend him until then? How good was that?

"You see the moment we don't defend him anymore what happens immediately. They are great players, that's just how it is. They do so many good things. 

"But the boys were completely focused, concentrated, really composed. It was just so good to see. It's the only way we can beat City. Maybe some teams can do it a different way - I don't think a lot of teams can do it - but this is the way we can. What the boys did today is just incredible."

Rodri made a surprise return to the Manchester City starting line-up for Sunday's blockbuster Premier League clash against Liverpool, with Claudio Bravo replacing injured goalkeeper Ederson as expected for the champions.

Spain midfielder Rodri has not featured since suffering a hamstring injury during City's 5-1 Champions League win over Atalanta last month but makes an ahead-of-schedule return at Anfield, where leaders Liverpool are aiming to extend their six-point advantage over Pep Guardiola's side.

A fitness setback during this week's return versus Atalanta might have the greatest impact upon City's prospects, with Ederson's thigh problem heralding a first top-flight appearance since May 2018 for Chile international Bravo, who was sent off after being introduced as a substitute at San Siro on Wednesday.

Angelino is the other eyebrow-raising inclusion in the City XI, with fellow left-back Benjamin Mendy not in the matchday squad.

David Silva, who limped out of last weekend's 2-1 win over Southampton, makes the bench.

By contrast, Liverpool line up as expected – Dejan Lovren partnering Virgil van Dijk at centre-back in Joel Matip's continued absence, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's impressive Champions League outings have not been enough to dislodged either of Jordan Henderson or Georginio Wijnaldum in central midfield.

Fernandinho lines up at centre-back once more for Manchester City and, along with John Stones, the captain must lead the defensive effort to contain Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Raheem Sterling – against his former team – and Bernardo Silva will flank Sergio Aguero in the City attack, with the club's all-time record scorer still searching for a first Anfield goal.

Unai Emery reached the milestone of 50 Premier League matches in charge of Arsenal on Saturday in the 2-0 defeat at Leicester City, but an overriding sense of disappointment is all he has managed to establish at the club.

Emery arrived in 2018 as Arsene Wenger's replacement, with the Frenchman ultimately paying the price for going 14 years without winning the title.

In fairness to Wenger, spending at the club was significantly reduced in the wake of their move to the Emirates Stadium, particularly when compared to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool over the same period.

It was hoped Emery's introduction would bring a fresh approach and winning mentality after years of stagnation at Arsenal. However, despite his trophy successes in previous spells with Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain, some – justifiably – had doubts about the Spaniard's style of play and training methods often criticised as boring.

After reaching 50 Premier League games, it is difficult at present to see him lasting much longer and his record compared to the division's best highlights the gulf in class.

Going backwards after Wenger

Emery's Arsenal have averaged 1.74 points per game across his 50 matches in the top flight. Of those in charge of the traditional 'big six', that figure is only better than Mauricio Pochettino (1.7) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (1.30) over their 50 most recent Premier League games – though the latter's figures are obviously skewed by his spell at Cardiff City.

That's where the positives end in terms of points per game for Emery, however.

Jurgen Klopp (2.62) and Pep Guardiola (2.52) are way out in front over their past 50 matches, while Frank Lampard – who has only taken charge of 12 in the Premier League – has accumulated a respectable 2.17 points per outing.

Similarly, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has done significantly better, averaging 1.84 points per game across his last 50 matches in the Premier League with Liverpool and the Foxes.

But the real kicker is the comparison with the much-maligned Wenger, whose 1.76 average means he too collected more points over his final 50 games at Arsenal than Emery has in his first 50.

Way behind the most prolific scorers

Wenger's Arsenal also scored more than Emery's side. During the Frenchman's final 50 games, they scored 96 times, seven more than they have with the Basque coach.

City have set the bar in terms of scoring over the period in question, netting 130 times, 12 more than Liverpool.

Defensively it is the other way round. While City's record of 33 allowed is exceptional, Liverpool's is even better at just 31.

Arsenal's defensive woes have been well-documented under Emery, with Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Sokratis Papastathopoulos hardly convincing.

As such, they have conceded 68 times since the start of last season, more than double both City and Liverpool and four more than in Wenger's final stretch.

Emery's already had enough time to solve issues

Emery can at least point to the fact he has lost fewer matches (13) than Wenger (16) did over the periods highlighted, though it's a pretty hollow victory.

Klopp and Liverpool again set the standard here, having lost just one of their past 50 Premier League matches, though even Rodgers has been beaten fewer times than Emery over his 50 most recent games, losing 12.

The overarching issue for Arsenal and Emery is a complete lack of identity, something one can certainly argue they still had even in Wenger's latter days.

While these statistics highlight how far behind the Premier League's leading pair Arsenal are, their lack of a discernible style and direction is arguably the main problem, one Emery probably will not get much more time to fix.

After all, there is little doubt they have regressed under his stewardship.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed the Premier League giants have "absolutely no chance" of signing Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe, 20, has been linked with a move away from the Ligue 1 champions, with Liverpool emerging as a potential surprise destination despite reported interest from Real Madrid.

But Klopp, whose side host Manchester City in a blockbuster clash on Sunday, dismissed talk Liverpool could add the France forward.

"Buying this calibre of player is difficult. I don't see any club at the moment who can buy Kylian Mbappe from PSG," he told the media.

"I don't see any club, that is how it is. And we are involved in the clubs that cannot do it. It is as easy as that.

"Okay, from a sporting point of view, there are not a lot of reasons to not sign him. What a player he is. But it is about the money of course. No chance. Absolutely no chance. Sorry for killing that story."

Liverpool were quiet during the previous transfer window, opting against adding any new faces to the first team.

Klopp again talked up the importance of keeping his squad together, saying the players he wanted were out of Liverpool's reach financially.

"The players we thought about to make this team better were really expensive and we could not spend the money. That is how it is," he said.

"To see a player better, or with potential to be better or play the same is difficult. That is what it was. That was the situation. It was not that we were not ready, but we did not want to make five or six changes. Not at all. They are at a wonderful age with still space for improvement.

"We wanted to do something and we could have done a lot, but we only wanted to do the right thing. That is the reason we kept this squad because it is really good and if you want to improve it you have to go for the right players, not just some players to fix whatever."

Liverpool hold a six-point lead at the top ahead of the clash against City at Anfield.

Kylian Mbappe continues to be linked with a move away from Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool are seemingly well in the race.

Mbappe, 20, has starred for PSG since arriving in 2017, but is reportedly a target for LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

However, Champions League winners Liverpool could also make a move for the France international forward.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL INTERESTED IN MBAPPE

Liverpool are set to battle Real Madrid for Mbappe, according to El Desmarque.

The report says the Premier League leaders have the funds to sign Mbappe after a quiet transfer window ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Mbappe remains the main target for Madrid despite being contracted at PSG until 2022.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich are looking for a coach to replace Niko Kovac and Arsene Wenger may, or may not, be a target. Bild reports the Bundesliga giants have spoken to the former Arsenal manager, while The Athletic says Bayern do not want Wenger.

- There could also be a coaching change coming at Barcelona. LaLiga's champions look set to part ways with Ernesto Valverde at the end of the season, with Marca reporting Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman is the top target to take over at Camp Nou.

- Back at Anfield and Liverpool could be lining up a move for Genk midfielder Sander Berge. Norwegian newspaper VG claims Jurgen Klopp told Berge he was a "very interesting player" after Liverpool's 2-1 Champions League win over Genk on Tuesday.

- Napoli are well off the pace in Serie A and it could see Carlo Ancelotti make a January exit. FOX Sports reports Boca Juniors are interested in the Italian tactician.

- Chelsea look set to make changes to their squad in January. The Premier League side are open to listening to offers for Olivier Giroud and Pedro in early 2020, according to The Telegraph.

- Amid a lack of playing time, Nemanja Matic is considering a Manchester United exit in January, according to the Manchester Evening News. Matic has made just two Premier League starts for United this season.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his fine form in front of goal by getting the winner as Liverpool saw off Genk 2-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday, meaning the Reds usurp Napoli at the top of Group E.

It was far from a vintage display from Jurgen Klopp's men, who for a period looked to be in danger of dropping points after Mbwana Samatta's fine header, but the impressive Oxlade-Chamberlain justified his selection with the winning goal that ensured Liverpool capitalised on Napoli's 1-1 draw with Salzburg.

Georginio Wijnaldum opened the scoring early on with a clever finish, but Liverpool lacked a clinical edge for the remainder of the first half and were pegged back by Samatta five minutes before the interval.

Still, Liverpool were dominant after the break and restored their lead with 53 minutes on the clock – Oxlade-Chamberlain getting his fourth goal in as many games to potentially put himself in contention for a start against Manchester City at the weekend.

A purposeful beginning had Liverpool leading after just 14 minutes, with Wijnaldum doing well to prod the ball into the top-left corner from close range despite it landing awkwardly in front of him.

The Reds wasted numerous chances to increase their advantage, Naby Keita drawing a fine save from Gaetan Coucke before Mohamed Salah and James Milner both missed the target.

And Samatta made them pay just before half-time, steering home a powerful header from Bryan Heynen's corner after Fabinho allowed him a free run at the ball.

But Liverpool showed renewed focus after the restart and Oxlade-Chamberlain made a decisive impact, taking a touch and then shooting left-footed on the turn after receiving Salah's pass, picking out the bottom-right corner.

Genk should have levelled late on when Heynen was released into the left side of the box, but Alisson palmed away his strike and the hosts held on despite the visitors' late pressure.

 

What does it mean? Liverpool take charge

Napoli slumping to a surprise draw at home to Salzburg means Liverpool will be confident of going on to finish top of the group.

Tuesday's performance was by no means a classic, yet it highlighted Klopp's strength in depth as he shuffled his pack and they were able to claim the win that puts them in control.

Ox in the box

Starting in attack in the place of Sadio Mane, Oxlade-Chamberlain was a real positive for the Reds. His build-up play was effective and he looked arguably the biggest danger to Genk, deservedly scoring in the second half.

Defensive concerns present again

While Genk were by no means a constant threat, it can be argued Liverpool allowed them to look dangerous. The Reds appeared particularly shaky when defending set-piece situations, with the visitors' goal coming from a corner. As such, it was the eighth successive game across all competitions in which they have conceded, their worst run under Klopp.

What's next?

Liverpool host Man City on Sunday in a match that could have significant consequences in the Premier League title race, while Genk host Gent the same day.

Manchester United have been granted a golden chance to advance to the EFL Cup's semi-finals after being drawn against fourth-tier Colchester United in the last eight.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side won 2-1 against Chelsea on Wednesday and will now host the lowest-ranked team left in the competition.

Manchester City, comfortable 3-1 winners against Southampton in the last round, have a similarly promising path into the final four as Pep Guardiola's men seek to secure the trophy for the third successive season.

The holders are set to visit Oxford United, who sit fifth in League One, at Kassam Stadium.

The other two ties are both all-Premier League clashes.

Liverpool were drawn away to Aston Villa following a see-sawing shoot-out triumph over Arsenal, while Everton and the under-pressure Marco Silva will welcome high-flying Leicester City to Goodison Park.

Each of the four quarter-final ties are scheduled to take place in the week beginning December 16.

European champions Liverpool are simultaneously due to be in Qatar for the Club World Cup, further complicating an already congested fixture list.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp threatened to boycott the next stage of the EFL Cup if an appropriate solution to the logjam cannot be found.

"If they don't find an appropriate place for us, not 03:00am on Christmas Day, then we don't play it," Klopp said after the Arsenal encounter, which ended level at 5-5 after 90 minutes.

"They have to make that decision. You have to think about these things."

EFL Cup quarter-final draw in full: 

Oxford United v Manchester City
Manchester United v Colchester United
Aston Villa v Liverpool
Everton v Leicester City

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp warned the Reds might have to pull out of the EFL Cup if their quarter-final tie is not suitably scheduled.

Klopp's Liverpool overcame a wild clash with Arsenal at Anfield, where the European champions prevailed 5-4 on penalties following a remarkable 5-5 draw on Wednesday.

Liverpool twice came from behind against Arsenal in a stunning comeback on Merseyside, but Klopp quickly threw his team's quarter-final participation in doubt afterwards.

Champions League holders Liverpool are due to feature at the Club World Cup, which will be held between December 17-21 in Qatar – the same week the EFL Cup quarters are scheduled to take place.

"We will not be the victim of this problem," Klopp told reporters post-game midweek. "We play tonight, we wanted to win it, we did that, and if they don't find a proper date for us, then we cannot play the next round and whoever is our opponent will go through. Or Arsenal play them.

"I'm not concerned, somebody else has to be concerned because we didn't make the fixture list, we didn't make the schedule.

"I've said it already, FIFA told us the Club World Cup will be there [Qatar] and we have to come there and we will do. The Premier League tells us we have to play in the Premier League, which we do obviously.

"The Carabao Cup, what we did tonight, if they don't find an appropriate place for us, not 3am on Christmas Day, then we don't play it. They have to make that decision. You have to think about these things.

"If you have a fixture list where one team cannot be part of all the games, then you have to think about the fixture list. Hopefully it starts now. I really think that's fair, and this problem is obvious now.

"We are going to ignore that problem completely for tonight. A lot of people from the Premier League were sitting in front of the television hoping that Arsenal can do it. But, I'm sorry."

Jurgen Klopp hailed the performance of his young players as "wonderful" after he made 11 changes to his team and saw Liverpool beat Arsenal in a penalty shoot-out following a 5-5 EFL Cup draw at Anfield.

The Reds twice came from behind to take the match to penalties and teenage midfielder Curtis Jones scored the winning goal in the shoot-out.

Harvey Elliott became the youngest player to appear for Liverpool at Anfield and Klopp handed a senior debut to full-back Neco Williams on a night he felt his young charges would never forget.

"What I wished for the boys is that they have a game to remember and that's what happened," the Liverpool boss told Sky Sports.

"A lot of people see the line-up and assume that we don't take the competition seriously but we cannot do it differently - we have to make a lot of changes - but we only make these changes because we trust the boys.

"What they did tonight, how they played, I loved it really."

Klopp picked out Williams for praise after he provided the cross for Divock Origi to score Liverpool's fifth goal and also hailed the performance of 20-year-old goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher despite Arsenal beating him five times.

Kelleher saved Dani Ceballos' penalty to ensure Liverpool clinched their place in the quarter-finals, and Klopp waxed lyrical about the importance of "being a hero on a night like tonight".

"Caoimhin, who conceded five, yes, but he is an outstanding talent," he said.

"Neco, crossing for Div [Origi], when three weeks ago he would never have thought he would start.

"Curtis Jones, it was not my decision at the end that he takes the last one. Div and Curtis changed it because when I saw the list the last time Div was taking the last one!

"The boys will remember it forever and that's the best thing you can say about a football game."

Jones replaced Naby Keita who appeared to be clutching his ankle after 55 minutes.

Klopp provided an update on the Guinea international's condition, saying: "If Naby's injury is not so serious, which I hope, then it was a nearly perfect night.

"He felt [his ankle] a little bit. I saw it, he slipped when he lost the ball. He slipped away, I saw him limping afterwards and that's why we did it."

Arsenal twice squandered the lead as they were dumped out of the EFL Cup by Liverpool on penalties after a remarkable 5-5 draw at Anfield.

Under-pressure Gunners boss Unai Emery needed a positive result to lift the gloom around Arsenal after they let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Crystal Palace, but Jurgen Klopp's irrepressible young Reds prevailed.

Shkodran Mustafi's own goal and James Milner's penalty bookended a Lucas Torreira strike and Gabriel Martinelli's double in a first half characterised by defensive errors and gung-ho attacking.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles extended Arsenal's 3-2 interval lead before strikes from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi levelled the contest, only for Joe Willock to put Arsenal back in front with a wonderful solo effort 20 minutes from time.

But Origi penetrated Arsenal's porous defence again to take the game to penalties, and Dani Ceballos had his spot-kick saved as Liverpool clinched a place in the quarter-finals at the expense of their beleaguered visitors.

Jurgen Klopp is the best football coach in the world because of the connection he establishes with players on an emotional level, according to Steffen Freund.

Klopp won The Best FIFA Men's Coach award for 2019 after leading Liverpool to Champions League glory and a club-record Premier League points tally of 97 last season.

The 52-year-old has helped the Reds build up a sizeable early advantage in this season's title race, too, with last Sunday's 1-1 draw at Manchester United ending an eight-game winning streak this term that has seen them move six points clear of City at the top of the table.

Former Borussia Dortmund star Freund watched Klopp work magic at his old club between 2008 and 2015, winning back-to-back Bundesliga titles, the 2012 DFB-Pokal and reaching the 2013 Champions League final.

While he admires BVB boss Lucien Favre, who ran Bayern Munich close in last term's title tussle, Freund would always prefer to see Klopp in charge at Signal Iduna Park.

"That is, of course, the wonderful thing when you compare the coaches: Lucien Favre and Jurgen Klopp," Freund told Omnisport, speaking courtesy of the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, driven by the new Nissan Juke.

"Favre is calm and well-balanced, with a good tactical instinct. But I would always prefer Jurgen Klopp, because he is the coach who can also reach players emotionally because he himself is like that, and because he knows that the day has come when he will sweep the players along with special moments, through his emotions.

"And that's why Jurgen is the best in the world right now."

Freund thinks the "passion" Klopp has helped to instil within his Liverpool squad will serve them well in the title race - particularly when their form deserts them.

"If you look at the Premier League so far, everything is playing for Liverpool," said Freund. "Even their own games are won late. It's not always good football, but they have played with a lot of passion. Jurgen Klopp also exemplifies this passion.

"They also have the necessary luck at the moment, but because I also played in the Premier League for five years and I also worked there as an assistant coach [with Tottenham], there will come a phase where Liverpool will lose.

"It looks so safe and clear at the moment, but that's not how they play. And then the question is how quickly they get back into the corner. Along with Manchester City, Liverpool are favourites for the title."

Jurgen Klopp rejected an outlandish attempt to lure him back to Borussia Dortmund in 2018 but the Liverpool boss has admitted he would consider returning in future. 

The German left Signal Iduna Park after seven seasons - during which time he won two Bundesliga titles - shortly before moving to the Premier League in October 2015.

Last season's Champions League triumph cemented his rich reputation at Liverpool but just a year earlier he had been offered a route back to Dortmund.

The audacious effort to persuade Klopp to leave behind his work on Merseyside has come to light in Hans-Joachim Watzke's new book, 'Real Love: A life with BVB'.

Dortmund were searching for a permanent successor to the sacked Peter Bosz in May of last year when chief executive Watzke placed a call to Klopp, who was in the middle of a plane trip.

"At some point my phone rang while I was on the plane and Aki [Watzke] was on it, 'Jurgen, you have to come back'," Klopp said, according to an excerpt published by Sport Bild.

"I laughed, I thought he was kidding. 'Are you stupid, have you been drinking? How do you get that idea? I have a few more years in Liverpool'.

"I do not know how serious he was at that moment, but I realised that he wanted me to be more willing to respond."

Watzke conceded he "knew" Klopp would honour his contract at Liverpool but said he felt obligated to pose the question to Dortmund's longest-serving coach.

There could, however, be hope for the future, with the Reds boss not willing to rule out a second stint with his former employers.

"As a rescuer, if the club really needs my help, why should I not do it? It's very nice that I would even have the opportunity," he said.

"But I do not think it's very likely that it will happen."

Page 1 of 6
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.