Chelsea and Liverpool are ready to resume a tug of love for Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso after the Santiago Bernabeu club gave the clearest indication yet that he may be on the verge of leaving them by lining up Real Sociedad’s Asier Illarramendi as a replacement.
The fact that Alonso has been conducting his pre-season training at Sociedad – his home town club – is another indication that the midfielder could soon be leaving Madrid.
Although his presence at Zubieta has led some to speculate that a return home may be in the offing, it’s thought that a return to the Premier League is what the player desires most.
Foremost among his English pursuers are Liverpool – for whom he won the Champions League in 2005 – and Chelsea, managed by Jose Mourinho, under whom he won La Liga with los Blancos.
With John Obi Mikel linked with a move to Galatasaray, the deep-lying ball-carrier role at Stamford Bridge could be available and would be tailor-made for Alonso.
He would offer the Blues a marked improvement on the Nigerian thanks to the superior range of his passing.
A return to Liverpool would see him reunited with Steven Gerrard at the heart of the Reds’ midfield, but whilst this would undoubtedly improve the quality of Brendan Rodgers’ side it would arguably put the brakes on the development of Jordan Henderson, who improved so much over the course of last season.
With Liverpool not involved in Europe and unlikely to mount a serious challenge at the top of the league – especially if Luis Suarez moves on – nostalgia is arguably the only thing that could draw Alonso back to Anfield.
Chelsea can offer him a manager that knows how to win the Premier League, Champions League football and fearsomely creative midfield buddies – including Spanish international mucker Juan Mata and Belgian ace Eden Hazard – that may yet help the uber-decorated Basque add yet more trophies to his packed cabinet.