BERLIN: Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes said Sunday he was certain in-demand coach Xabi Alonso would stay with the league leaders beyond this season.

Speaking on German TV the day after Alonso’s Leverkusen thumped perennial Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich 3-0 to take a five-point lead atop the table, Rolfes was asked if Alonso would stay beyond the summer.

“I’m sure of it,“ Rolfes said on the Doppelpass football programme.

“One thing is the contract, the other is how comfortable he feels.

“He knows we will have a top team next year.”

Alonso extended his deal at Leverkusen before the start of this season until 2026 but has been heavily linked with a move away.

Liverpool, who will have a vacancy in the dugout at the end of the season after manager Jurgen Klopp’s decision to step down, have been linked with Alonso, as have former sides Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

The Spaniard played for Liverpool from 2004 until 2009, winning the Champions League in 2005.

Rolfes, who played close to 400 games for Leverkusen while representing Germany before becoming sporting director at the club in 2018, made the decision to bring in Alonso in October 2022.

Despite a glittering playing career, Alonso’s coaching experience was limited, but the former midfielder has lost only three of his last 51 games in all competitions with Leverkusen.

This season Leverkusen are unbeaten in 31 games -- including 27 victories -- as Alonso has the side on track for what would be a first-ever top-flight league title.

Rolfes also said star midfielder Florian Wirtz, 20, would remain at the club next season.

“Yes, it’s the right thing for him. The way he plays, you know he has an environment in which he can develop.” - AFP

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