If reports are true Xabi Alonso’s transfer situation underwent a significant shift yesterday.
No doubt things are going on behind the scenes but from this remote outpost it looks like Rafa and Xabi have been circling each other waiting for the other to make a significant move. Yesterday to my mind it came when it was reported that Alonso had told Rafa that he did indeed want to move to the Bernabeu. Until now we had reiterated to Real, and other clubs, that Alonso was not for sale. However, now that the player has expressed a desire to go that changes everything.
I guess the question most managers who find themselves in Rafa’s situation ask themselves now is this – is Alonso now worth hanging onto? If the player wants to go then the inference is that he no longer wants to play for the club which in my book is enough grounds for moving him on? However, in Alonso’s case I‘m wondering if this is the case? He has continually reiterated his desire to keeping playing for Liverpool and he’s settled on Merseyside. Perhaps his request to be given his wings is more to do with the way he’s been treated over the past year?
The issue with Gareth Barry last summer has been well documented. Yet even when Barry went to Manchester City Alonso’s future continued to be the subject of speculation. This time the circumstances were different with Real Madrid wanting to buy the midfielder rather than Rafa wanting to sell. For Alonso it must have been an ironic turnaround that Rafa was now fending off Madrid’s advances when twelve months before he was more than keen to offer him to Juventus to fund his Barry fixation?
Rather than let things lie this summer Rafa to my mind tried to force the issue last week in a most clumsy way by insisting that Alonso owed Liverpool some loyalty. Given last summers events this was a somewhat dubious claim. I don’t know Alonso but if he were having any doubts about moving such a claim I wouldn’t be surprised if Rafa’s claim tipped the tables in favour of a move. Did Rafa genuinely believe that everyone would buy it most particularly Alonso?
Equally perplexing are reports about Rafa insisting that Alonso publicly state that he wants to move as if this will exonerate him of accusations of shipping out a popular and highly rated player. However, although Alonso had a really good 2008-09, which led to Rafa insisting that he wasn’t for sale, many will look back to the events of last summer as one of the reasons that contributed to his departure. Perhaps, one should not be too harsh on Rafa. If Alonso does go for anything near the price the club is asking for then it will represent extremely good business – Rafa signed him from Real Socieded for £10.5m in 2004. And of course Rafa will have the money to spend on a replacement be it like for like or on a top class striker which could mean shifting Gerrard into a role where the emphasis is more on midfield than his present one just behind Torres?
As for Alonso I’m slightly surprised that he’s chosen Real Madrid given his Catalonian roots. However the Madrid team we thwacked in the Champions League last season is a far cry from today’s ensemble. Alonso will surely consider this a move sideways if not upwards. The finances will be better and of course there is also the fact that he’s going home.
So if Alonso goes where will it leave Liverpool? This is the first time in ages we’ve had to let someone go we’d rather have kept? It will be up to Rafa to deal with the departure by spending the money wisely. However, we will recover and move on because that’s all we can do, starting with tonight’s friendly against St Gallen.