Xabi Alonso has explained his reasoning behind his switch from Real Madrid to Bayern Munich this summer despite reportedly having the chance to join Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool.
The Spanish international left the Premier League in 2009 to join Madrid, but departed his native country to link up with Pep Guardiola at the Allianz Arena for a fee of around £5 million.
The 32-year-old enjoyed five years with Liverpool at Anfield - and had the chance to return to England when it became clear that he was leaving Real Madrid. According to reports, Manchester United were in the running for his services, as were Arsenal and Chelsea.
Arsenal in particular look short of options in midfield, while Chelsea appear better equipped to cope with the demands of a Premier League season having lured Cesc Fabregas to Stamford Bridge. Manchester United spent the majority of their summer looking for options in the middle of the park, ended up landing Daley Blind on deadline day from Ajax.
"There was absolutely nothing I didn't like at Madrid. It was just that I wanted and needed something new" - Xabi Alonso
Having previously revealed that his fond memories of Liverpool meant he couldn't join a rival Premier League club like Manchester United, Alonso also says the chance to play in an entirely new league before he retired was too good to turn down - which automatically ruled out a move back to England.
"I had the chance to go to another top club in another league," he said. "It was maybe the last time to have experience something new. That's why I took a few days to make up my mind and I talked about it with Madrid, who were very understanding. I'll always be very thankful to the club. Maybe the decision came late, but that's how it was."
Alonso helped Real Madrid claim a record 10th European Cup victory last term, but his place in the team was under threat following the arrival of Toni Kroos from Bayern Munich - however the former Liverpool ace insists he wasn't forced out of the club.
"People talk a lot. I wanted a fresh start, in a new city. I felt it was the best thing for my career," he explained. "It didn't have anything to do with new players arriving because I knew Ancelotti had faith in me and I was going to play an important role.
"There was absolutely nothing I didn't like at Madrid. It was just that I wanted and needed something new."
Having snubbed the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, Alonso will now focus on helping Bayern Munich retain their Bundesliga crown, and will use his experience to guide them to Champions League glory.