Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso has said that he almost moved to Barcelona before eventually joining Real Madrid.
The Spaniard moved from Liverpool to Real in the summer of 2009, after spending five years on Merseyside, where he won the Champions League and the FA Cup.
During his time with Los Blancos, Alonso won the La Liga title, a Champions League medal and a Copa del Rey trophy, before leaving them to link up with fellow Spaniard Pep Guardiola at Bayern.
However, things could have been very different had the 35-year-old midfielder joined Barcelona instead of Real Madrid in 2009. The reason the move did not go through was the emergence of fellow midfielder Sergio Busquets.
Speaking to El Pais, as reported by Fourfourtwo, Alonso said, “It happened not long before I left for Real Madrid. Liverpool told me that they wanted to sell me, [manager at that time, Rafael] Benitez too, and Pep showed an interest in my situation.”
He continued, “He wanted to sign me because, as he told Rafa, I was the type of player who would fit his [playing] model. But he had doubts because Busquets had just come through and had the makings of a tremendous player.”
The Spaniard concluded by saying, “Guardiola chose him, and he wasn’t proved wrong.”
Xabi Alonso has had a great career, both for club and country, winning two Champions League titles, multiple league titles and the World Cup and European Championships with Spain.
It would have been incredible to see him playing alongside Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta in the Barcelona midfield, but the emergence of Sergio Busquets saw the world getting to watch another immensely talented player come to the fore.
Alonso’s present and the past collide now when current employers Bayern Munich play at Real Madrid in a mouth-watering battle of the Champions League giants. Alonso’s team won the first leg 3-0 in Munich.
The 35-year-old will hang up his boots having won the 2010 World Cup and 2008 and 2012 European titles in 114 appearances for Spain.
The defensive midfielder has a reputation for being ice-cool under pressure, leading one German newspaper to dub him: “a god of simple things, with the serenity of a Zen master.”
But the charismatic Basque is bidding to finish his professional career by making history and winning the Champions League with three different clubs having lifted the trophy with Liverpool in 2005 and Real in 2014.
No other player has won the Champions League three times with three different clubs.
Clarence Seedorf is the only player to have won the trophy three times, but he did it with two clubs – Real in 1998 and then at AC Milan in 2003 and 2007.
And if Bayern have their way, Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, which hosts the 2017 Champions League final, will be where Alonso makes his final professional appearance, but first they must squeeze past Real.