Xabi Alonso appears to be on the verge of leaving Liverpool for Real Madrid. Not a surprise by any means after all the protracted negotiations, but still sad for me as a Liverpool fan. Alonso will go down in Liverpool folklore as part of the 2005 Champions League winning team, particularly for squeezing in that equaliser, but he will be missed for more than purely nostalgic reasons. Last season he was clearly one of Liverpool’s best players, and after the nonsense of Benitez trying to sell him on last summer it was wonderful to see Alonso show just how great a player he is, when lesser personalities might not have made quite the effort.
His passing was metronomic and his presence of mind in the Liverpool midfield will evidently be missed. But not just his passing – the stats also showed that more often that not he was one of the most industrious runners, covering more ground that most, if not all, his team-mates.
I remember reading that Alonso had made a point of actually living in Liverpool, to feel part of the city, rather than living out in the Cheshire footballers heartland. I think that sums up the fantastic attitude he had to playing for the club. I don’t envy whoever steps into his slot.