Xabi Alonso: Liverpool Fan's 663 Reasons FSG Should Sign Him From Real Madrid...
It was an easy enough question;
"Do you want Xabi Alonso back or not?"
But it threw up many more. Could it really happen? Would he fit into Brendan Rodgers' team structure? Is he too old at 31 for Fenway's emphasis on signing youth with resale value? If I did want him back would it be purely through sentimentality based on Istanbul and the vivid memory of consecutive goals scored from his own half?
(A note here, the goal against Newcastle was better than that against Luton. Xabi looked for a pass, there was nothing on, he clearly thought "what the hell, I'll have a pop" and he did. Sublime.)
The Mirror is reporting that Alonso's contract talks with Real Madrid have broken down and that he may be available in the summer for £8.5m on a salary of £80,000 per week. Under Fenway Sports Group's current strictures this is obviously poor value; a three year contract would cost £21m and leave you with a 34 year old midfielder. You're recouping nothing on this deal.
Liverpool Supporters have spent all year pointing out that what is needed is some bite in midfield, a Mascherano-esque figure to supplement Lucas. Is a creative midfielder a priority in a possibly limited budget given that we are told that this is the role that Joe Allen will eventually fulfil?
And the big one. Can you go back? Is it wise to attempt to revisit former glories?
Xabi Alonso may well be the perfect Brendan Rodgers player; in a system that requires maximisation of possession, a player who can retain the ball as Alonso does can be absolutely pivotal. In forty years of watching Liverpool I have never seen a player with as much ability to create space and time for himself as Alonso. Jan Molby in his pomp comes close with his knack of controlling an entire game from the centre circle but Alonso's mobility gives him superiority here.
The Alonso that we witnessed in a red shirt from 2004 to 2009 - stately, imperious, a sublime range of passing, dictating the pace and shape of games - is the Alonso that has grown into the crux of the current Real Madrid team and a crucial component of one of the greatest national sides the world has seen.
If Alonso is available as this week's reports and the season's gossip would have us believe, he is exactly the calibre of player that Liverpool should be aiming to buy. Rodgers has spoken of his need for leaders on the pitch, for experience in his side. Alonso perfectly embodies these virtues and has an added value that would make his purchase thoroughly desirable; he still loves Liverpool. Anybody who has followed his Twitter account will be well aware of his feelings for the club and he will be equally aware that the fans appreciate and reciprocate this. Given that his departure for Madrid could easily be construed as the fault of Benitez with his inexplicable season long courtship of Gareth Barry, it may well be that Alonso feels some degree of unfinished business at Anfield.
Imagine a midfield trio of Lucas, Alonso and Gerrard supplying Suarez, Coutinho and Sturridge. Think of the options from the bench from the current squad alone. Rodgers' desire for high tempo pressing and resting with the ball would be facilitated by a truly world class player as comfortable in possession as any in the game.
Last summer Fenway failed to back Brendan Rodgers in his attempt to purchase Clint Dempsey. Too old, too little value for the price quoted. This may finally be of some benefit to us. Should FSG wish to make a statement of intent in this transfer window, should they wish to demonstrate their backing for the manager then they will provide the funds for a player of exactly the level of ability and experience that Liverpool should be adding to the squad.
It's not even a question.
Do I want Xabi Alonso back?
Too bloody right I do.