Real Madrid are reportedly giving consideration to the sale of Xabi Alonso this summer amid concerns over a loss in weight, and the club have already identified Luis Gustavo as a potential replacement.
Concerns in Madrid
This report comes from Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, who claim that manager Carlo Ancelotti is worried by the lack of strength Alonso has shown during pre-season, which has been attributed to the player losing weight.
Alonso only signed a new contract with Real Madrid during the January transfer window, but the Champions League winners supposedly have not ruled out the 32-year-old’s departure so concerned are they by the fitness issue.
The acquisition of Toni Kroos from Bayern Munich this summer has of course provided further competition for places although, until now, it had seemed Alonso had a future at the Santiago Bernabeu despite the German’s arrival.
Links with Wolfsburg player Luis Gustavo appear to suggest Madrid are in the process of finding a successor for Alonso, although these reports had initially emerged before the spotlight was cast on the Spain international.
Premier League links
Before committing himself to Madrid a few months ago, Alonso had been linked with a free transfer back to the Premier League this summer - with former club Liverpool and also Manchester United credited with interest.
Manchester United have since reinforced their midfield with the signing of Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao, and would appear to be after a more dynamic player than Alonso to partner him in the middle of the park.
A Liverpool return?
An Anfield return would, of course, be one for the football romantics with Alonso still held with great affection by Liverpool supporters, while he maintains a strong relationship with Steven Gerrard. But do Liverpool really need him?
A team can never have too many quality players, and Alonso would bring a wealth of Champions League experience with him - something Liverpool will require following their return to elite level European competition.
However, a pursuit of Alonso may not be the best course of action for Liverpool. He would come on high wages indeed for a player of his age, even if the transfer fee would be minimal, and may not even slot into the team.
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Gerrard showed last season that he can perform to distinction in Alonso’s natural deep lying midfield role, and there is no longer scope for the two to work effectively in the same midfield as they did during their time spent together previously.
Liverpool have also reinforced their midfield ranks already this summer with Emre Can arriving from Bayer Leverkusen, and a hypothetical deal for Alonso could well stunt the growth of the young German, along with that of Jordan Henderson.
Alonso still has plenty to offer at the highest level, as he was able to prove with the prominent role he played in Real Madrid’s success of last season. However, if his departure is sanctioned, the Premier League may not be Alonso’s destination.