And so it ends.
Curtains finally fall on the longest running transfer saga of this season. FC Liverpool becomes £30 million richer but relinquish the services of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid. Yes. Alonso is the latest arrival at the Bernabeu.
As a RED myself, I feel deeply disappointed to lose one of our talismanic midfielders. An outsider would surely be inclined to say that the departure of Alonso is very less damaging as Liverpool’s midfield is heavily dependent on their captain marvelous- Steven Gerrard. True to some extent. But having said that it is instructive to compare the style and significance of Gerrard and Alonso, two players with very polarized approaches to the sport. Gerrard is more of an attacker. A rallying point for desperate rescue missions. Alonso, on the other hand, a player with vision. A silent leader. A player with authority and presence. As a certain reporter rightfully states “Alonso is the key figure in the painful transition of Liverpool from frantic scurrying to confident mastery”. He has this unique ability to bring about a fluidity in the game with controlled possession and pinpoint short passes and long balls. A massive reason behind the success of Liverpool’s last campaign.
It was baffling to see Benitez preferring the mediocrity of Gareth Barry over uniqueness of Alonso. And even when he lost Barry to Manchester City, instead of saying “Who needs him when we have Alonso!!” he chose to label Barry as greedy for cash over success. A perfect opportunity was blown by Benitez to show Alonso how much he meant to the club. At this point of time Alonso was bound to feel exasperated and look for better offers abroad. If he has left Liverpool today its not because he felt seduced by the glamour and glitz of the Galacticos, but because he felt rejected by Benitez.
Alonso has 61 appearances for Spain. A tremendous achievement considering the plethora of talent Spain possesses in midfield. Maybe Benitez was not Spanish enough to appreciate that.
The departure of Xabi has certainly left a big hole in the Liverpool line-up. Its not a question of ‘whether’ but ‘how much’ Liverpool will miss Xabi Alonso next season considering the fact that even Mascherano is feeling unsettled at England. Even his future is a subjected to speculation. Suddenly the Reds are falling short of their holding midfielders.
It is difficult to see how Liverpool could find another player with Alonso’s qualities. Whomsoever Benitez will sign as his replacement has big boots to fill.
Whether Liverpool will still be title contenders next season or go one better and lift the coveted Barclays Premier League trophy, only time will tell…