Liverpool: ‘End of era’ if Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah follow Jurgen Klopp out of club

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Liverpool could be facing the “end of an era” this summer if stars Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah follow manager Jurgen Klopp out of the club.

Klopp will step down at the end of the season after nine years in charge.

Captain Van Dijk says he does not know if he will be part of the new era, while forward Salah has been linked with a move away.

“It may feel for some that they may want to move on,” ex-Blackburn striker Chris Sutton said on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Klopp’s announcement came with the club in the running for four trophies. They top the Premier League, face Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final and are still in the FA Cup and Europa League.

“They have such a close-knit group, Klopp has been there years. The players he signed will feel they owe him one. They’ll want to be galvanised and win everything,” continued Sutton on Monday Night Club.

“But then because they’ve been part of the journey under Klopp it may feel for some like Van Dijk that they may want to move on. Van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Salah look like they might move on. It is possibly the end of an era, not just for Klopp but for some of the players.

“A lot of players Klopp brought in will feel that bond with him and may think ‘we can’t argue it’s the right time to leave when Jurgen Klopp does, a natural time’.”

Klopp has won the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup with Liverpool – with Salah, 31, and Van Dijk, 32, part of that success.

Egypt’s Salah has scored 204 goals in 332 games for Liverpool, while the Netherlands centre-back Van Dijk replaced Jordan Henderson as captain last summer.

The experienced duo and homegrown right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold are all out of contract at the end of next season.

“If they lose Salah and Van Dijk, they would be two huge players to walk away from Liverpool,” said Sutton.

“They’re more likely to move on at the end of the season as a natural end to the Klopp era and it’s a totally different job then to lose two massive juggernauts to the team.”

What now for Liverpool?

“It’s a hospital pass going in after Jurgen Klopp,” said Sutton.

The odds-on favourite to be the next Liverpool manager is Xabi Alonso, whose Bayer Leverkusen side are top of the Bundesliga in his second season in charge.

The 42-year-old Spaniard played for Liverpool from 2004 to 2009.

“The problem is Alonso is a rookie,” said Sutton. “I wonder if they will think he hasn’t managed long enough. Klopp was so charming and larger than life.

“It’s not just about coaching, you have to handle the atmosphere, the whole club.

“When Liverpool got Klopp in he’d had seven years and done incredible things at Dortmund. He’d had highs and lows and experienced everything. That’s the one thing that would go against a rookie like Alonso.

“At the moment everything is going swimmingly well but Bayer Leverkusen aren’t expected to win the Bundesliga. To go in at Liverpool and follow a giant, if things don’t start well how would he handle adversity?”

Leicester City defender Conor Coady, who started his career with the Reds, says they have to decide what style of play they want now.

“Klopp brought his philosophy of heavy metal football, gegenpressing, he changed Liverpool’s way of being,” said Coady.

“It’s interesting to see how they move forward. Do they bring in a manager like that? Do they keep that style of play? It’s whether they want to go rebuilding or go down the same route again.”

Liverpool assistant managers Pepijn Lijnders and Peter Krawietz and elite development coach Vitor Matos will leave in the summer, with sporting director Jorg Schmadtke to depart at the end of January.

“It showed with the amount of people leaving that want something different,” said Coady. “His backroom team, sporting director, it’s such a big rebuilding job.

“You’re never going to get another Jurgen Klopp. He’s taken it to such a level, the top of the mountain. Do they go down the same path? It doesn’t look like it because of how many people have left. But a rebuild takes time.”

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