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Blood Red: Xabi Alonso should pledge future to Liverpool FC cause

by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
Xabi Alonso fires Liverpool in front at Hull

THERE is a theory doing the rounds that Xabi Alonso would be fully justified to leave Liverpool this summer because Rafa Benitez was willing to sell him this time last year.

As long as there is a transfer market and the principle of freedom of movement is enshrined in the EU constitution players will be free to come and go as they please, contract permitting of course.

But if Alonso does intend to swop Anfield for the Bernabeu then he can’t really use the fact that his manager considered cashing in on him after a below par season as an excuse, no matter how bitterly upsetting that situation was.

Yes, Benitez’s admission that he was willing to listen to offers for the Spanish midfielder will have fractured their relationship to the point which Alonso is no longer willing to describe it as anything more than “professional”.

And yes, Alonso is well within his rights to feel a lingering sense of harsh treatment having committed himself to Liverpool by signing a new long term contract with the club just 12 months before his manager considered flogging him to Juventus.

But since then Alonso has gone on to recapture his very best form and has just enjoyed arguably his best season in a red shirt, rivalling the superlative Steven Gerrard for the title of Liverpool’s star man during the 2008/09 campaign.

He couldn’t have done that without the backing of his manager who picked him in the vast majority of Liverpool’s games and who trusted him to continue his role as conductor of the Anfield side’s orchestra. Alonso could hardly claim to have been made an outcast.

He didn’t though. The Spaniard battled for his job and fought so well that he ended up signing a new five year contract which ties him to Liverpool until 2013 despite what had gone on before.

Alonso could walk away. He could decide that the grass is greener at the Bernabeu and that he no longer wants to play for a manager who tried to sell him.

But then again, he could let bygones be bygones, remember that it was Benitez who gave him one of the finest platforms in European football to perform on and pledge his future to Liverpool once again.

He could also consider the fact that while Benitez may not have wanted him last summer neither did his current suitors Real Madrid who showed no inclination to sign him when it was clear to everyone that Alonso was available.

There is a school of thought which suggests that Liverpool cannot afford to keep an unhappy player, a theory which also applies to Javier Mascherano.

But maybe this is one occasion when international football will actually come to Benitez’s aid because whether Alonso and Mascherano are happy or not they are going to have to play well in the coming months to make it to the World Cup on top form.

At the very least, Alonso and Mascherano owe Liverpool another year and if the Reds manage to hang on to their central midfield duo it could be the most important bit of business they do this summer.


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