“Liverpool plan to bring Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso back in £8.5m deal” – you can’t avoid the speculation, and according to reports there is genuine interest from Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers to re-sign the silky Spaniard this summer.
Alonso departed Liverpool four years ago, after Rafa Benitez’s pursuit of Gareth Barry a year earlier had left the player unsettled.
Alonso left Liverpool after his best season for the club, during the memorable 2008/09 campaign that resulted in the club’s best Premier League finish. That side, featuring Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard and Torres in the form of their lives, should have gone on to enjoy much more success.
But off-field events ultimately cut the team apart and just four years on from the 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid at Anfield, only Gerrard, Carragher (set to retire), Skrtel (expected to be sold) and Pepe Reina remain.
Alonso is revered on Merseyside, rightly so. He was a player fans liked, admired and felt an affinity to. Had he never been sold he would sit alongside adopted Scousers like Sami Hyypia and Didi Hamann.
As much as a return to Liverpool would be welcomed, it would also seem at odds with everything that is being built in the new era under new manager and new owners. Much has changed.
Rodgers and FSG have a clear vision to sign young players, who can develop at the club, and retain a high re-sale value. It’s a sensible vision in order to bridge the gap between the mass of wealth other competitors have at their disposal. Coutinho appears to perfectly represent this policy.
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While Ian Ayre and Rodgers have previously said they would be willing to go against the policy and sign older players if there was a strong enough argument, I’m not so sure Alonso fits the criteria.
As much as we love him, Xabi is 31, would still cost around £8m and would require high wages.
Not to mention that he plays in the same role Steven Gerrard has now adapted to in midfield and has benefitted from as he enters the twilight years of his career.
Quite clearly, the signing makes little financial sense, but also makes little footballing sense too – given the Gerrard position within the side, but also when you factor in the need for other areas and abilities to be added to the squad is much greater.
Alonso’s strengths are as a passing midfielder, yes he is one of the best in the world, but it’s hardly an area Liverpool are short of; Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Lucas.
Meanwhile, a strong, combative but productive defensive midfielder is becoming a huge requirement.
Victor Wanyama is another linked with a move to Liverpool. The Celtic midfielder has different qualities to Xabi but would be available for a similar price.
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Wanyama is 21. He would require less wages. He can play at centre back too – another area of more need – and can develop further at Liverpool.
As much as re-signing Alonso is a romantic and emotive thought, it makes no sense in terms of football or business. Therefore, with regret, Liverpool should pass up the opportunity and focus their targets elsewhere.