Towards the end of last season, mere weeks before the Champions League final that saw Liverpool take on Real Madrid for Europe’s top honours, Jürgen Klopp’s longtime friend and assistant manager Zeljko Buvac departed the club for reasons that remain unexplained.
Rumours flew pointing to everything from burnout to family matters to a deteriorating relationship with Klopp to a desire to establish himself away from the shadow of Liverpool’s manager. The hope all along, at least according to the club, was that he would return.
Klopp, so the story went, would keep the position vacant and allow Buvac the time he needed, and the Bosnian Serb would be welcomed back into the fold when he was ready—with the hope being that he would be in time for pre-season ahead of 2018-19.
With pre-season having officially begun and Buvac still not having made his return, it appears Klopp and the club have accepted that—for whatever reason—a return for Buvac will not be possible. He will not return as assistant manager and the club will move on.
They will not, however, sign anyone new to fill the void left by Buvac, with multiple sources now suggesting a reshuffle is likely with the recently returned Pep Lijnders—back after an unsuccessful spell with NEC Nijmegen—likely to become the assistant manager.
Given how highly regarded Lijnders is amongst Liverpool’s management team, this news is hardly surprising and there was reason to believe when he returned to the club that this would be the end result, even if at the time the story was that Buvac could yet return.