By Enis Koylu & Ben Hayward
In a late summer move, two-time Champions League winner Xabi Alonso has left Real Madrid for Bayern Munich to link up with compatriot Pep Guardiola.
Real opted to cash in on Alonso rather than holding him to the terms of his contract and the move will give a boost to a Bayern midfield in the midst of an injury crisis.
Goal's Enis Koylu and Ben Hayward go head to head over the issue and debate whether or not Alonso's move to the Bundesliga will work out.
|"A €10 MILLION LUXURY BAYERN DON'T NEED"
By Enis Koylu
There is no doubting that Xabi Alonso is a wonderfully gifted footballer who will bring class and experience to a Bayern Munich squad already teeming with quality, but his signing is a €10 million luxury the Bavarians simply don't need.
The injury sustained by Javi Martinez was a headache Pep Guardiola could have done without, but the former Athletic Bilbao man was barely used last term in his preferred midfield role and his unfortunate knee ligament blow came when he was in the middle of the back three. Mehdi Benatia had already been signed to compensate.
Indeed, even without Martinez, Bayern have an embarrassment of riches in midfield. Guardiola has switched to a 3-4-3 this season with two central midfield berths, which will be filled by Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger in an ideal scenario.
Thiago Alcantara, fresh from an encouraging first season in Germany will be in a position to challenge for a first-team spot, David Alaba has been fielded there this term and Gianluca Gaudino and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg would be hopeful of making inroads into the XI.
Alonso will not bring much to the table. More baffling is Alonso's reported wage packet of €7.5m per year, marginally less than the demands of Toni Kroos earlier this summer which were deemed excessive and saw him sold to Real Madrid.
At 24, Kroos will only get better; at 32, Xabi's powers are already on the wane. Alonso may appear to be an intriguing signing, but he is a fairly unnecessary one. Real Madrid and Bayern traded midfielders this year - and the Spanish club are certainly the ones who did better out of the deal.
|"PEP HAS A PROBLEM AND XABI IS THE SOLUTION"
By Ben Hayward
Bayern have lost Toni Kroos to Real Madrid, Javi Martinez is sidelined for virtually the entire season with a serious injury, Bastian Schweinsteiger is struggling constantly for fitness and Thiago’s fragile frame means he cannot be relied upon to complete too many games. So Pep Guardiola had a problem - and Xabi Alonso is the ideal solution.
Although on different sides of the Clasico divide, Guardiola always admired Alonso and saw some of himself in the Basque midfielder. Xabi, like Pep the player, is a deep-lying pivot with a wonderful range of passing, great vision and is a strong character. Pep will relish working with Alonso, who cited a lack of motivation and the need for a new challenge as two of his reasons for leaving Madrid, is sure to rediscover his hunger and intensity under one of the game’s most demanding coaches.
The former Liverpool midfielder will be 33 in December, but has never relied on pace and should still be at the top for another two seasons. That’s long enough to have a big impact at Bayern, where he will be in search of a third Champions League crown after winning the competition with both Liverpool and Madrid.
Alonso has been successful in teams with numerous styles, from Spain’s tiki-taka to Madrid’s counterattacking system. He has also worked with a range of top coaches, including Carlo Ancelotti, Luis Aragones, Rafa Benitez, Vicente del Bosque, Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini. The midfielder explained on Friday as he said farewell to Madrid that he had learned from each of them and added that he was keen to link up with Guardiola for that very reason.
At 32 and still vital for Real right up until his departure, he has all the skills and the experience to lead the Bayern midfield and become a key player at the Allianz Arena – even when all of the others are available.
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