Options abound for Jurgen Klopp after his Borussia Dortmund departure
In a Champions League knockout week, it's not often that a coach announcing his imminent departure becomes the biggest story, but then Jurgen Klopp, whose seven-year spell at Borussia Dortmund brought the club two league and Cup doubles and a run to the 2013 Champions League final, is no ordinary coach.
On Wednesday, he gave an emotional press conference in which he confirmed he would be standing down at the end of the season, and would not be taking a sabbatical year off.
"It was just right that we announced this today so that the club can plan ahead," he said.
In so doing, he may have pulled off the perfect poker move: Dortmund is not the only club planning next season.
So are the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, and many more who have uncertainty surrounding their coach. Klopp said he has not had contact with any other clubs, but that will change in the next few days.
Here are some of the options among Europe's top five leagues that might come his way:
Klopp told BT Sport last season that because he speaks English, it would make sense that his next move was to the Premier League. The reigning champion, Manchester City, showed little interest in the German in 2013, when it appointed Manuel Pellegrini; however, even with Klopp's nightmarish 12 months at Dortmund, the landscape has changed now.
Every week it seems that Pellegrini says he is not scared of losing his job, and with every passing game, his hold on the position becomes more insecure. City has lost six of its last eight games, and an overhaul of the playing staff, at the least, is expected in the summer.
It has long been reported that the board sees Pep Guardiola as the ideal coach when his Bayern Munich contract expires in 2016.
So City has a dilemma: should it make a move for Klopp, who can develop a playing style (City has no obvious one at the moment) and build a side for the long-term, or stick with Pellegrini, or a shorter-term solution like Rafa Benitez, in the hope of getting Guardiola in 12 months?
Klopp bills himself as a romantic and that could be a sticking-point at the newly-rich City. Not so at Arsenal, although the timing is wrong at the Gunners. Arsene Wenger was on a sticky wicket last year, but winning the FA Cup and a likely improvement on its league placing this year, not to mention a recent three-year contract which the Frenchman has no intention of breaking, renders Arsenal unlikely.
Manchester United is enjoying a renaissance under Louis van Gaal and would not disrupt that progress. Liverpool is undergoing a similar transition under Brendan Rodgers. Klopp's name has been linked to Anfield before and in terms of community and tradition, the similarity to Dortmund is evident. Rodgers won over the club's American owners last season and although this season has been one of ups and downs, it would be harsh on Rodgers if he was jettisoned this summer.
Newcastle, Spurs and West Ham may also cheekily ask about Klopp's availability, but the answer is likely to be "Nein." For a coach of Klopp's stature, if there's no Champions League, there should be no interest.
At this stage of the season, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti is in the danger zone: had it lost the Champions League final last season, Ancelotti would have been fired. The same is expected to happen if Atlético Madrid beats Real Madrid in next week's Champions League second leg.
Would Klopp fancy the job in Spain, where the turnover of coaches is notoriously quick? He might prefer more stability in his next job, though Wenger aside, not many coaches find it easy to turn down Florentino Perez. If Klopp does take that job, it would allow Manchester City to swoop for Ancelotti, who I believe would be a better fit in England.
Barcelona, the current La Liga leader, could also be in the market for a new coach.
Luis Enrique has recovered from the winter crisis and reported fallouts with Lionel Messi, and the team is still on course for a trophy treble, but if the Catalans somehow end the season empty-handed, its former midfielder could find himself cast aside.
One club not looking for a new boss is Atlético, who signed Diego Simeone to a long-term deal last month. Simeone will not be on the move this summer, but don't rule out a switch in 2016 when the end of Euro 2016 will see more movement on the managerial merry-go-round–not to mention the end of Guardiola's contract at Bayern. Might Bayern go for Simeone in 15 months? As Klopp has proved, a long-term deal does not always last the distance.
There was a funny moment at the Ballon D'Or ceremony in 2013 when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was being interviewed and Klopp came over to say hello. The pair embraced and Ibra said to the coach: "When are you going to bring me to Dortmund?" Klopp laughed and the mutual respect was obvious. That might be relevant soon if Ibra's club Paris Saint-Germain loses to Barcelona in the Champions League this week.
PSG boss Laurent Blanc is perpetually on thin ice, despite beating Chelsea last month, and despite PSG being in the running for all four titles it's going for this season. Klopp would be a perfect fit for a club that is obsessed with image as well as success, but would he fancy a move to a lesser league? Marseille is likely to be after a new coach as well, but its Champions League position is not secure yet either.
Roma boss James Pallotta told the Leaders in Football conference last October that he could see Rudi Garcia staying as coach for as long as Sir Alex Ferguson was at Manchester United. That was then, though: after a wretched spring, Roma has dropped out of the top two in Serie A, and Garcia might not start on the bench next season.
Klopp would be a good fit at Roma, a forward-thinking club with progressive owners, but is Serie A the right fit for Klopp? Napoli and AC Milan are two other options that could be available, but once again the Champions League question rears its head.
It would be an incredible twist if Klopp stayed in Germany, as there is really only one place he can go after Borussia Dortmund: Its rival Bayern Munich. Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski have taken the same path, much to Klopp's chagrin, but would the coach really do such a thing? He'd have to take a sabbatical first and he has already said no to that. It would be fun if Bayern showed interest, just so we could hear Klopp's response.