Still absolutely unbelievable that Rafa tried to sell Xabi because he wanted to replace him with Gareth Barry. Baffling.
Not if you actually bother examining the facts.
Xabi Alonso’s Liverpool career started brilliantly with two very good years. However, partly because of injuries he sustained, his form in his next two years with the club were well below the standard he first established.
It was after the second of those two years that Rafa Benitez explored the possibility of selling Alonso and replacing him with Gareth Barry, partly because of Alonso’s two season slump and partly because UEFA were on the brink of introducing home grown player quotas again.
For various reasons the sale of Alonso didn’t happen so nothing changed. Alonso then went on to have a brilliant year at Anfield, undoubtedly his best at the club, and you could make a fair case that part of the reason for his improvement was the shock that he actually wasn’t indispensable and had to prove his worth to the team.
At the end of that season, in May 2009, Alonso gave an interview in which he said that he was happy at Anfield, that he was looking forward to the next season with the club, etc. Then Real Madrid made their interest known as Marca started producing a steady stream of articles about Alonso joining the club. Eventually a deal was done even though, with Alonso having turned his decline around, Benitez and Liverpool wanted him to stay.
People conveniently forget the context which is all-important, especially those two poorer seasons. But what the trolls who love to use Alonso as a hammer to bash Benitez and Liverpool with forget is that in summer 2008 Liverpool received only one offer for Alonso and it was for £10 million and it wasn’t from Real – and even that offer fell through. Twelve months later Alonso joined Real and they paid £35 million for him.
In short, if it was so obvious that trying to sell Alonso in summer 2008 was such a bad move then why didn’t anybody want to pay only £10 million for him then?