Xabi Alonso, the most impressive Premiership import to date?

Posted by Don Vito Corleone on August 19, 2004, 07:10:38 PM

As bold as the above question may appear to be, let me explain.......

Since the Premiership came to be in 1992, possibly the most notable difference from the old football league that has come to pass has been the presence of the "foreign import". Some have been good, others bad, but at the top end of the market  it can't be denied that English football has benefited from some of the most talented players in the world. Henry, Vieira, Cantona, Schmeichel, Bergkamp and Van Nistelrooy to name just a few, all "Galacticos" in their own right.

So why would the transfer of Xabi Alonso eclipse the aforementioned superstars?

Well, out of all the above mentioned, there are 3 Frenchmen, 2 Dutchmen and a Dane. The French have typically always travelled. You just have to look at how many players in their national side play abroad for testimony to this. The same has always applied to the Dutch (Cruyff, Van Basten, Rijkaard etc) and the Danish (Simonsen, Elkjaer, the Laudrups).

Ahh, but what about imports like Zola, Ravanelli, Vialli, Gullit and Desailly, after all they've have had glittering and very well decorated careers?

Well what about them? Impressive players indeed, but all came over towards the autumn of thier career for one final big paycheck in what was allegedly referred to as the FA Carling Premier Retirement Home by certain Italian agent.

Even Cantona only ended up on these shores because no one in France would touch him with a barge pole, a player passed from club to club to disciplinary hearing.

It has also been something of a safety net to a few players who have "flopped" in Serie A. Henry, Bergkamp and Vieira all having suffered from either having a battered or non- existant reputation before flourising under the genius that is Arsene Wenger in his Highbury Rehabilitation Centre.

If you look at other big money imports into England you will see names like Juan Seba Veron (Argentine, already established in his national side, and a big hit in Italy), Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Dutch, move to England benefitted his career, none of the big Spanish or Italian clubs in for him), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, a great season for Marseille but has one season wonder written all over him) and whoever else is flavour of the week at Stamford Bridge.

But I've yet to recall a transfer of a native player from a "big league" to England who is only in the early stages of his career and is so highly rated in their own country. Not one Italian or Spaniard has made that imaginative and courageous leap. The two countries' large clubs have always jealously held onto their best young players.

Imagine for a moment Wayne Rooney turning down a move a Manchester United, and instead signing for Barcelona. That's the equivalent of the Alonso move.

You could throw the case of Jose Antonio Reyes into the mix, Arsenal's sparkling young replacement for Bergkamp. Then again, Real Madrid weren't the competition for his signature, Arsenal had been nurturing his transfer since he was 17, and Arsenal's transfer fee includes the majority based on future success/appearences. Alonso is also further advanced on the national stage.

It says an awful lot about Alonso that he is brave enough to make this move at this stage of his career, on the verge of taking over as first choice in the heart of the Spanish midfield, because as has been seen with Reyes, it can jeopordise your international prospects moving abroad.

It also (again) reflects well on Senor Benitez. Make no mistake, this is a hell of a catch and illustrates the regard in which El Boss is held in his native country.

Now for an even bolder statement, this time from Alonso himself.

"When it came down to a choice between Madrid and Liverpool I chose Liverpool."

How impressive are those words?

I could just stand back and admire those words like one would admire a picture of Penelope Cruz sans bra and panties, and that's a lot of admiration.

Not a week passes lately without an increasing feeling of optimism, optimism and pride. It's a pride that comes from when the President of another club waxes lyrical about YOUR club, despite you buying its best asset. It's a lesson that some "bigger" clubs may want to take notice of, phrases like "transparency" and "future vision between the clubs" hardly smacks of backhanders and tapping up does it?

Also it's great how quietly have we gone about our business, in the summer, a paupers club some people would have you believe.

Show me a pauper that can spend upwards of £25million in a summer and still be in the market for "the right" players. Granted we have got rid of some dead wood, but that's still an impressive amount spent, yet it doesnt seem to have registered in the offices of Trinity Mirror or Sky, unlike the new media darlings of "The Bridge" where it seems the solution to not being headline news isn't to win a match, but to spend a ridiculous amount of money on an average defender. If Abrahmovic wants to throw his money away, let him, we'll concentrate on spending it wisely under Rafa.

It is indeed a good time time to be a Liverpool supporter again

Anyway, I'll leave you with this little gem ...

El que la sigue, la consigue

Hala Benitez!

© kaizer sauze 2004

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