Cesc Fabregas has revealed fellow Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso was begging to leave Liverpool for Arsenal in 2009, but the Gunners’ hierarchy failed to make the deal happen.
By then, Alonso had spent five seasons at Anfield, forming brilliant midfield partnerships with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano as the Reds won Champions League and FA Cup titles.
How close was Alonso to joining Arsenal? Five things to know…
- Alonso played 210 times during a five-year stay with Liverpool.
- The Spaniard helped the club to FA Cup and Champions League titles during that time.
- But in 2009, manager Rafa Benitez informed Alonso he was to be sold.
- He signed for Real Madrid after Arsenal and Juventus fell £3m short of his £18m valuation.
- Fabregas has revealed Alonso spoke to him on a “day-to-day” basis of wanting to join Arsenal.
But Alonso was told he could leave by then-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez, who reportedly wanted to bring Gareth Barry to Merseyside from Aston Villa to replace his compatriot.
Barry never did join Liverpool but Alonso still left Anfield to join Real Madrid, although things could have turned out very differently according to Fabregas.
“He’s one. I was with Xabi on the phone the whole summer,” Fabregas told Arsecast when asked about players Arsenal missed out on.
“I am not a director, I see it from a player’s point of view. If it was me, if I wanted to go somewhere like I went to Arsenal, I do my everything to go to Arsenal.
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“And I see that when a player wants to go somewhere, it’s easy. Forget contracts. Okay, sometimes it’s more difficult, if you have a long contract or something, but normally it should happen.
“And yeah, Xabi Alonso was one of them. I mean I was living it day-to-day because he was texting me all the time.
“I remember the whole holiday I was talking to him, he was texting me: ‘What’s happening?’ And it was a shame, because I think he would have been a great, great, great addition to that team. He was made for Arsenal, I think.”
Alonso: Arsenal were just £3m short
In an exclusive interview with the Liverpool Echo’s “Anfield Extra” show in March 2017, Alonso himself revealed that Arsenal, as well as Italian giants Juventus, were only £3m short of the Reds’ £18m valuation of him.
“I said to him, ‘Rafa, of course. I need to accept this – you are the ones who make these decisions’. But, in the end, nothing happened,” Alonso said.
“My position changed a little bit because I wasn’t expecting the manager to say I could be sold.
“I was really close to Juventus and I was close to Arsenal. But, it was just £3m. Liverpool were asking £18m and both offered £15m – so that’s why it didn’t happen.”
Los Blancos were, indeed, the club to front the cash in the end and Alonso went on to win four major trophies during his five-year stay at the Bernabeu, including the 2013/14 Champions League.