Limping out of the World Cup after failing to get out of the group isn't a befitting exit for Xabi Alonso, who has announced he could well be retiring after the World Cup debacle is over, according to the Daily Mirror.
In truth, anyone who witnessed his performance against Chile will not be surprised by the news, whilst his comments regarding the groups lack of hunger echoed the sentiments of a man on his way out.
Alonso is part of a dying breed of footballers who are able to dominate games through technique, rather than physical skill or dribbling ability. He belongs in the same category as Paul Scholes, Andrea Pirlo, Xavi and Juan Román Riquelme, who all possess the jaw dropping ability to dictate play, and spray passes to wherever they please, managing to look completely relaxed and carefree whilst they do so.
The decision to retire from international duty will undoubtedly be a relief to Carlo Ancelotti, given that it should prolong the midfield general's career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Although Asier Illarramendi will in time be a world-class midfielder, for now the partnership between Alonso and Luka Modric is paramount to Real Madrid's success. Playing with Alonso has aided Modric's progression, and he is now more comfortable constantly dominating a game, whereas before he would flitter in and out of games, especially at the start of his Real Madrid career.
Alonso's exit from the national scene will allow Vicente del Bosque, if he stays, to pair Sergio Busquets and Koke together. The dynamic presence of Koke will be a boost to Busquets, who looked incredibly exposed against both Holland and Chile. Xavi is likely to make the same move as Alonso, which opens up the potential of playing Andrés Iniesta in the number ten role, with the pace of Pedro and either Jesus Navas or Gerard Deulofeu either side of him. This gives Spain more pace in the final third, an area that essentially cost them their World Cup dream.
Having started his Spanish career in 2003, whilst playing for his hometown club Real Sociedad, Alonso has gone on to make 112 appearances for Spain, winning both the World Cup and the Euros, and being selected in the FIFA World XII twice, in 2011 and 2012, when Spain were at the peak of their powers.
A living legend, Alonso's absence from the Spain squad will not be an easy one to adapt to, especially as he has become a vocal leader in the dressing room. This is the time when the likes of Gerard Piqué, Sergio Ramos and Iniesta need to step up and become markers of quality and authority for the next generation of Spanish footballers.
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