How good was Xabi Alonso?

MrEleson

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Just thought I’d add to the list of similarly titled threads asking “How good was player X?”

But seriously, when looking the glaring void in our midfield and assessing the clear and obvious attributes that we lack in that position, the player that ticks each and every one of those boxes in my mind and would be a prime candidate for that role is the retired Xabi Alonso.

If we were to transport the 09-14 iteration of him to 2021(didn’t watch him as closely at Liverpool), he would honestly be a signing that would turn us to genuine contenders on each and every front. He was the fulcrum of that free-flowing Madrid team and what allowed them to field a front 4 of Ozil - Benzema - Ronaldo & Di Maria without any ramifications in the balance of the side with his solid double pivot partnership with Khedira in the middle. The guy was as robust in the tackle and superb defensively as he was in his passing and distribution forward from deep. Some of his long range passing was a sight to behold and he could also dictate the play and tempo of the game like the best of them. His general ability to read and understand the game was excellent and I would say he was as complete as CM/CDMs come with his only noticeable shortcomings being his inability to dribble which isn’t a particularly crucial requirement for his role.

His quality is reflected by the fact that even for Spain during their golden period, Iniesta was shifted from his natural position next to Xavi & Busquets (that would have mirrored the exact trio prime Barca were playing) out to the LW to accommodate Alonso in the midfield where he formed a double pivot partnership with Busquets. The guy was seriously good but he seems to not be talked about at all these days even though he only retired 4 years ago.

I would rank him in the top 10 midfielders I’ve seen over the last 15 years and he would be a critical addition to any top side today.

Just to add some of his ridiculous passes/assists:



He launched so many attacks and counters that led to goals from some incredible projectile passes.

He was also a penalty and long shot specialist.
 
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Lynty

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The guy was seriously good but he seems to not be talked about at all these days even though he only retired 4 years ago.
143 apps for Liverpool. That's why he's not talked about.

For me, trying to remove all bias - not quite top 10. Very good midfielder and very well rounded. From a hypothetical catalogue of prime midfielders, there's certainly more than 10 i'd choose over him to put in our midfield right now.

I also don't think Iniesta was displaced to make room for Alonso, more so to cram as many possession players onto the pitch as possible.
 

RooneyLegend

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Couldn't play under pressure, out side of that he was pretty much perfect. From those Spanish midfielders he had the best passing technique.
 

RedBanker

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Tremendous long passing range. Susceptible to pressing and lacked the guile of a Xavi or Iniesta. Wasted many years at Liverpool.
 

Vidyoyo

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Lazy comparison perhaps but for me he was as good as Carrick. They were similar players in the sense that their best quality was sitting back and dictating play, good enough at tackling without being exceptional, and just all round classy people who went about their business quietly.

Also I think it's slightly unfair to bring up the Liverpool-ness. They were doing okay back then with Rafa, Mascherano, Torres, etc.
 
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Lynty

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Lazy comparison perhaps but for me he was as good as Carrick. They were similar players in the sense that their best quality was sitting back and dictating play, good enough at tackling without being exceptional, and just all round classy people who went about their business quietly.
As good as Carrick is fair.
 

TrustInJanuzaj

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I think Carrick was slightly better to be honest. Alonso was probably a better long passer but Carrick was exceptional at playing the ball between the lines. I think Carrick was also the better defensive player as he read the game better. All that said Alonso was a good player and would be perfect in this current Utd side.
 

Blood Mage

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Very good. Not quite Xavi/Pirlo/Scholes level but definitely in the tier just below those three as a DLP.
 

tomaldinho1

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Lazy comparison perhaps but for me he was as good as Carrick. They were similar players in the sense that their best quality was sitting back and dictating play, good enough at tackling without being exceptional, and just all round classy people who went about their business quietly.

Also I think it's slightly unfair to bring up the Liverpool-ness. Lest we forget, they were sometimes title contenders back then.
Feel like he was a bit more robust than Carrick, a bit more confrontational and scrappy in challenges (as is the way when you spend too long at Pool) but equally effective. Both he and Carrick weren't great when pressed and weren't the most agile.
 

Gehrman

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Definitely one of the most underrated midfielders ever.
 

Robbie Boy

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He was class. It's truly a shame that such a great player to watch had to play for the scousers. He was a key player in that exciting Sociedad team that nearly won La Liga in 02/03.
 

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Superb defensively may be overselling him a little, as, like most deep-lying playmakers, he wasn't great once turned or running towards his own goal. But yes he was one of the best, perhaps top 10-15, in his role of all-time. And equally one of the greatest long passers we've seen with tremendous vision. I think the fact he shone in a range of set-ups and environments across his career speaks volumes, from the slightly more box-to-box game for Sociedad early on, into the rough and tumble of the late 2000s English Premier League, stepping into Spain's tiki-taka, while not missing a beat for Real or Bayern. Can't imagine many, if any, teams who wouldn't take him now.
 

#07

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143 apps for Liverpool. That's why he's not talked about.

For me, trying to remove all bias - not quite top 10. Very good midfielder and very well rounded. From a hypothetical catalogue of prime midfielders, there's certainly more than 10 i'd choose over him to put in our midfield right now.

I also don't think Iniesta was displaced to make room for Alonso, more so to cram as many possession players onto the pitch as possible.
Exactly this. While he played for Liverpool I hated to admit how good he was. Even now, I still don't like it. However, if I see him as a Real Madrid legend that makes it easier! :lol:


Not as good as Gareth Barry, that's for sure.
What the living hell were Liverpool thinking that summer? Even if Rafa wanted it trying to replace Xabi with Barry. Pure insanity.
 

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If he got yellow card every time he deserved it he would be remembered as far worse player, but that's what Real Madrid brings when playing for them.

He was pretty pointless for Spain when they were on top.
 

Glorio

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I think Carrick was slightly better to be honest. Alonso was probably a better long passer but Carrick was exceptional at playing the ball between the lines. I think Carrick was also the better defensive player as he read the game better. All that said Alonso was a good player and would be perfect in this current Utd side.
I think he was better than Carrick. Both in terms of passing and in defending
 

Jim Beam

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Class act, probably best paired with hardworking midfielder alongside of him like Mascherano/Khedira who will do a bit more of heavy lifting, although he was positionally excellent in defensive sense and quite phisical if the team needed him to be. He was also excellent in more adventures set ups with Modric in Madrid or during his time in Bayern.

One of the rare "scousers" who I kind of like as a player. Him leaving probably helped a lot, although I considered him great even in that Liverpool team (without wanting to admit it obviously). Not sure where Benitez mind was when he sold him.

Carrick is a good comparison, but I think he was overall a better player with more consistency.

Provider of one of the most brilliant, no look assist in EPL ever as well.

 

MrEleson

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Class act, probably best paired with hardworking midfielder alongside of him like Mascherano/Khedira who will do a bit more of heavy lifting, although he was positionally excellent in defensive sense and quite phisical if the team needed him to be. He was also excellent in more adventures set ups with Modric in Madrid or during his time in Bayern.

One of the rare "scousers" who I kind of like as a player. Him leaving probably helped a lot, although I considered him great even in that Liverpool team (without wanting to admit it obviously). Not sure where Benitez mind was when he sold him.

Carrick is a good comparison, but I think he was overall a better player with more consistency.

Provider of one of the most brilliant, no look assist in EPL ever as well.

That was a ridiculous assist
 

Stacks

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Just thought I’d add to the list of similarly titled threads asking “How good was player X?”

But seriously, when looking the glaring void in our midfield and assessing the clear and obvious attributes that we lack in that position, the player that ticks each and every one of those boxes in my mind and would be a prime candidate for that role is the retired Xabi Alonso.

If we were to transport the 09-14 iteration of him to 2021(didn’t watch him as closely at Liverpool), he would honestly be a signing that would turn us to genuine contenders on each and every front. He was the fulcrum of that free-flowing Madrid team and what allowed them to field a front 4 of Ozil - Benzema - Ronaldo & Di Maria without any ramifications in the balance of the side with his solid double pivot partnership with Khedira in the middle. The guy was as robust in the tackle and superb defensively as he was in his passing and distribution forward from deep. Some of his long range passing was a sight to behold and he could also dictate the play and tempo of the game like the best of them. His general ability to read and understand the game was excellent and I would say he was as complete as CM/CDMs come with his only noticeable shortcomings being his inability to dribble which isn’t a particularly crucial requirement for his role.

His quality is reflected by the fact that even for Spain during their golden period, Iniesta was shifted from his natural position next to Xavi & Busquets (that would have mirrored the exact trio prime Barca were playing) out to the LW to accommodate Alonso in the midfield where he formed a double pivot partnership with Busquets. The guy was seriously good but he seems to not be talked about at all these days even though he only retired 4 years ago.

I would rank him in the top 10 midfielders I’ve seen over the last 15 years and he would be a critical addition to any top side today.

Just to add some of his ridiculous passes/assists:



He launched so many attacks and counters that led to goals from some incredible projectile passes.

He was also a penalty and long shot specialist.
He gets dribbled by super easy and provides limited protection
 

MrEleson

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He gets dribbled by super easy and provides limited protection
From what I remember, he was one of only 2 defensive minded players in Mourinho’s Madrid (excluding defenders) and they were rarely ever overrun.

A team that had Ozil and Ronaldo in attack, two players that probably do the least pressing and tracking back.
 

MrEleson

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Gets a better reputation because he had better protection by playing alongside Maschenaro
What about at Madrid, particularly from 11-13? He was the sole sitting DM. He was the protection.
 

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If he got yellow card every time he deserved it he would be remembered as far worse player, but that's what Real Madrid brings when playing for them.

He was pretty pointless for Spain when they were on top.
So macherano was bad? Verrati must be diabolical
 

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Somewhat overrated.

Had possibly the best long passing technique I've ever seen but lacked the ability to control the game like a Scholes or a Carrick.
 

elmo

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What about at Madrid, particularly from 11-13? He was the sole sitting DM. He was the protection.
He was great at Madrid too tbf
Apart from the Barcelona games, the rest of the league was practically a breeze.

Barely needed to do any defensive work when the opposing teams were just trying to contain the likes Ronaldo, Benzema, Ozil and Di Maria
 

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if he was breaking through now I'd be happy if united splashed £100m on him

would prefer a young Carrick, just.. better defensively and at controlling

some of Alonso's long passes were sublime
 

RobinLFC

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Only on a Utd forum would you see him compared to Carrick.
 

MrEleson

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Had possibly the best long passing technique I've ever seen but lacked the ability to control the game like a Scholes or a Carrick.
This isn’t true though. He controlled many games at Madrid from deep. He was essentially the glue between the attack and defence and often dictated the tempo of games. 2010-13 Madrid would look a lot more like the current United (albeit still much better) without a player like Alonso in the middle. He was doing both the dirty work and great things on the ball.
 

MadDogg

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I think he was better than Carrick. Both in terms of passing and in defending
Passing, yeah probably. Defending, nah. Carrick was, other than maybe Busquets, the best defensively of all the 'DLP' midfielders of that era. Alonso would have been the third best, but I'd say there was a decent gap between him and the top two (but also a decent gap between him and the rest behind him like Xavi, Scholes and Pirlo).
 

Tarrou

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Only on a Utd forum would you see him compared to Carrick.
“He’s one of the best holding midfielders I’ve ever seen in my life, by far. He’s the level of Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets in Barcelona and Bayern Munich.” Pep Guardiola (BBC Football)
 

MadDogg

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Only on a Utd forum would you see him compared to Carrick.
In reality, Carrick shouldn't really be compared to the players that he normally gets compared to. Those are Alonso, Scholes, Xavi, Pirlo, etc. Carrick actually played a different role than all of them, being our main defensive midfielder whereas they were all played next to somebody else more focused on doing that role. Carrick obviously wasn't as good a playmaker as those other players, but the fact that he was close enough to be compared to them when it wasn't even his primary function in the team shows how important he was to us. It allowed us to play two true playmakers in a two man midfield, something that really nobody else was doing then or since.

The only real comparison for him is Busquets who played a similar role for Barca.
 

RobinLFC

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“He’s one of the best holding midfielders I’ve ever seen in my life, by far. He’s the level of Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets in Barcelona and Bayern Munich.” Pep Guardiola (BBC Football)
Carrick wouldn't be a name that would almost instantly pop up if you asked this question on another forum. Different player as well, simple as that.
 

RobinLFC

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In reality, Carrick shouldn't really be compared to the players that he normally gets compared to. Those are Alonso, Scholes, Xavi, Pirlo, etc. Carrick actually played a different role than all of them, being our main defensive midfielder whereas they were all played next to somebody else more focused on doing that role. Carrick obviously wasn't as good a playmaker as those other players, but the fact that he was close enough to be compared to them when it wasn't even his primary function in the team shows how important he was to us. It allowed us to play two true playmakers in a two man midfield, something that really nobody else was doing then or since.

The only real comparison for him is Busquets who played a similar role for Barca.
Fair enough so it was indeed, as mentioned by the initial poster, a lazy comparison. Apart from that, Xabi Alonso is a tier above him for me. But logically a lot on here would disagree on that.
 

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Fair enough so it was indeed, as mentioned by the initial poster, a lazy comparison. Apart from that, Xabi Alonso is a tier above him for me. But logically a lot on here would disagree on that.
Xabi looks better because he played with such dross at Liverpool, whereas Carrick looks worse because he played with such class at United.
 

#07

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In reality, Carrick shouldn't really be compared to the players that he normally gets compared to. Those are Alonso, Scholes, Xavi, Pirlo, etc. Carrick actually played a different role than all of them, being our main defensive midfielder whereas they were all played next to somebody else more focused on doing that role. Carrick obviously wasn't as good a playmaker as those other players, but the fact that he was close enough to be compared to them when it wasn't even his primary function in the team shows how important he was to us. It allowed us to play two true playmakers in a two man midfield, something that really nobody else was doing then or since.

The only real comparison for him is Busquets who played a similar role for Barca.
In Xabi Alonso's case this isn't entirely true. At Real Madrid Xabi Alonso was often the main defensive midfielder. For example, in 2013-14 he often partnered Modric in a two man midfield.

Xabi Alonso was very much like Carrick, in so far as he was charged with both stopping and starting attacks, and a very different player to Xavi, Scholes or Pirlo.

If he played next to destroyers at times e.g. Mascherano and Khedira it was down to the caution of his coaches at the time. Namely, Rafa and Mourinho. Although, in Mourinho's case, the Xabi Alonso and Khedira partnership was actually an attacking selection. As Khedira's role was not to screen the defence but to go hunting the ball and press in the middle third. It was still Alonso who was expected to block the passing lanes and not sell himself by jumping in and leaving his back four unprotected.

Xabi Alonso was a superb player. One of the best midfield anchor men the game has seen in the 21st century. If United had a player of that level I'd make us favourites for the title this season.

PS) Too many people are putting disrespect on Carrick in this thread. Its been awhile I know but please 2012-13. Just remember what Carrick gave us.
 

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Lazy comparison perhaps but for me he was as good as Carrick. They were similar players in the sense that their best quality was sitting back and dictating play, good enough at tackling without being exceptional, and just all round classy people who went about their business quietly.

Also I think it's slightly unfair to bring up the Liverpool-ness. They were doing okay back then with Rafa, Mascherano, Torres, etc.
He was head and shoulders above Carrick. Do not let our United bias fool us.