So that’s more or less that? A medical in the next few days and Xabi Alonso will become a Real Madrid player.
The move, agreed for around £30m brings to end a long summer saga which many weren’t expecting, didn’t want but, in the light of last summers Garth Barry affair in which Rafa tried to offload Alonso to finance the deal, shouldn’t really be surprised about.
It’s frustrating that having come second in the league and pushed The Mancs (who it should be remembered also lost a major player to Real this summer) so far that instead of looking to strengthen the team we are having to deal with the loss of one of our better players. Now we are reduced to looking for a replacement and, with the beginning of the season less than two weeks away, time is running out?
So what of Alonso? It’s been hinted that there were personal issues with Rafa but nonetheless all one can say is that Xabi has behaved with class and dignity during his time with Liverpool. Yes, ultimately he wanted to go but can anyone blame him for taking up the chance to go home and, even though he’s a Basque, for being attracted by Real Madrid after their signings this summer?
No doubt some will slate Alonso for lack of loyalty, but as mentioned earlier, it should be remembered that Rafa tried to off load him last summer and then, embarrassingly, this summer suggested Xabi owed Liverpool a debt. Truth be told we, and particularly Rafa, were lucky to have a player of his maturity and class, many would have responded to such treatment by throwing their toys out of the pram. However Xabi’s response was professional to the end as he went on to put together one of his best seasons for us.
And Rafa? It looks like he will now have around £30m (we are told) for a player he tried to sell for £18m two months ago and picked up for £10.5m five years ago. A vindication of his tough stance with Madrid over the price and perhaps his newly acquired control of transfers since signing his contract? However, it does not say a great deal about his management of Alonso who is entitled to have every grievance over the way Rafa has peddled his services in such an openly public manner during his attempts to improve the squad.
And what of a replacement? Signs suggest Rafa will be able to use all or most of the proceeds to buy a replacement. And a replacement has to be found, Lucas for example would be poor stand in for Xabi and I’m fairly sure that Rafa will not want to bring Gerrard back into his position having seen how well he works playing just behind Torres. Two players have been reported in the press as possible replacements Roma’s Alberto Aquilani and the older and more robust Christian Poulsen of Juventus. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on Italian or Danish football but neither player, at first glance anyway, looks like a better or equal replacement for Xabi. Other players suggested are Lee Cattermole, and still David Silva who we have been associated with for some time – if we are going to buy him then now is surely the moment? I’d also like to throw in Scott Parker (see previous article – click here) if you’re listening Rafa!
Whoever we get time is a crucial factor. The Tottenham game is looming and surely the new players will not be in place, let alone ready to play by then? Rafa faces a busy few weeks when he should be concentrating on securing a good start?
Above all we have had five good years from Xabi. The side was better with him in it and benefited from his vision, passing, tackling, cheeky long range punts if not always his pace! That penalty in Istanbul still does things to my stomach whenever I see it! It is sad to see him go and I wish him the best of luck but Liverpool moves on. Starting with the quest for a decent replacement and the game in Norway, against Lyn Oslo, tonight where an improvement after last Sunday’s defeat is a more immediate and achievable aim.