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Xabi Alonso has shaped Leverkusen into the perfect modern team.

Xabi Alonso’s decision to stay at Bayer Leverkusen caught many by surprise. The Spaniard had been strongly linked with both Bayern Munich and Liverpool. Widely seen as the best young manager working in European football right now, most expected Alonso to take the next step in his career this summer. Instead, he will remain at the BayArena.

Alonso has made the bet that he will be able to take the next step in his career at Leverkusen. On the brink of winning their first-ever Bundesliga title and with Bayern Munich at a low ebb and facing a painful rebuild under a new manager, the Black and Reds have the opportunity to dominate German football.

Leverkusen have swept away the competition in the Bundesliga this season. Not only could the title be wrapped this weekend, Alonso’s team are on course for an unbeaten campaign and a trio of trophies – Bayer Leverkusen will face Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal final and West Ham in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Under Alonso, Leverkusen have become the perfect modern team. They play with intensity in and out of possession, but can control a game through their use of the ball. Alonso was commonly seen as the ideal successor to Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, but his style of play focuses on short passes more than that of the Reds’ boss.

This points to Bayer Leverkusen’s performance levels being sustainable. They aren’t out-performing their underlying numbers like Napoli did last season as they won the Serie A title, for example. In the case of Napoli, it was always likely that a drop-off would come at some point, yet no presumption can be made of Leverkusen.

It would take a remarkable turnaround in Bayern Munich’s fortunes for the Bavarians to compete against Leverkusen next season. Their second half collapse away to Heidenheim on Saturday highlighted just how vulnerable Thomas Tuchel’s team have become with Harry Kane’s goals not enough to mask other issues within the squad.

Bayern Munich have the resources to find the number six and right back they desperately require this summer, but the cultural change that is clearly needed at the Allianz Arena might take longer to implement. This is a group of players that has lost its hunger. A new generation is required to give Bayern’s next manager a chance of success.

There is no rush for Alonso to move on in his managerial career. The former midfielder set a precedent for himself by rejecting the chance to take over Borussia Monchengladbach while he was Real Sociedad B boss. He grew as a manager as a result of this decision and Alonso clearly believes there is more to achieve at his current club.

“[I have] the conviction I am in the right place at Bayer Leverkusen and I want to keep growing with the club, growing with the players,” said Alonso as he announced his decision to remain at Leverkusen. “We have speculated enough. I want to enjoy wherever I am and I am enjoying it at Leverkusen.”

Of course, much of this depends on Bayer Leverkusen’s ability to keep hold of their best players. Florian Wirtz has already been linked with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City while Jeremie Frimpong is believed to be on the radar of several Premier League clubs too. The loss of either player this summer would be profound.

Nonetheless, Bayer Leverkusen’s impending Bundesliga triumph could be the start of a golden era for the club. Alonso has moulded the Black and Reds in his own image. Leverkusen have a clear identity, whereas Bayern Munich don’t. Alonso turned down the opportunity to rebuild the Bavarians because he can achieve something greater by staying put.

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