If someone asked me who I thought was Liverpool’s best midfielder, I would say Xabi Alonso.
Signed for £10.8m in 2004, Xabi Alonso can be described as a football legend and idol. Not only was he a fortress in defence with a 75% success rate at countering his opponents moves (Premier League stats) but he also showed great skill on the offense.
Making 143 appearances, the 37 year-old managed to impress fans with 14 goals and seventeen assists (Premier League stats). Alonso had some of the best win percentage this club has seen too with 59%. This is shown to be higher than Steven Gerrard (51%) and Ray Kennedy (55%).
Alonso was also known to have the best range of passes, so it’s no wonder his contributions helped Liverpool win their fifth Champions League title.
…and it’s no wonder that the team fell apart once he left in 2009.
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We made a huge mistake selling Alonso in 2009, as he was a pillar in our midfield. As much as we respect him, it’s astonishing that Benitez thought he could replace a player of his ability with Aquilani. I know his first target was Gareth Barry but we shouldn’t have settled until Benitez was certain he had found a reliable player. Alonso had even signed a five year contract in 2007.
For instance, replacing Alonso with a player who had fewer goals and assists than him is bizarre. What was even worse is the fact that Aquilani was injured by the time we signed him. Time did prove that Benitez wasted £18m on Aquilani, who scored just 1 goal in his three years at Liverpool.
The Alonso-shaped hole began to show in the 2009/10 campaign. Where Liverpool finished 2nd in the 2008/09 season with 86 points, we then fell to 7th in the following season. Benitez left and Liverpool struggled to even reach the top 4.
Who knows where Liverpool could have been if we kept Alonso. Could we have won the League? Maybe. Could we have still finished seventh. It’s possible.
One thing I know for certain: Alonso is one of the best players to ever grace our field.