Currently valued by transfermarkt.co.uk at £16m, Real Madrid midfielder and experienced Premier League player Xabi Alonso could become one of the bargain buys of the year as his contract at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu expires in June, meaning he is free to discuss personal terms with any club of his choosing ahead of a Bosman transfer in the summer.
Since the closing of the summer transfer window in 2013, Alonso has seen his name linked to a number of clubs in England including his erstwhile employer Liverpool, where he would receive a heroes welcome, to the club's North West nemesis Manchester United and also to Chelsea, where a reunion with former Los Blancos boss Jose Mourinho is a possibility.
In 547 minutes of La Liga football thus far this season, Alonso has been responsible for 13 tackles, 15 interceptions, 12 clearances, has created ten chances whilst retaining a 90% pass completion rate.
Esteemed Spanish journalist Guillem Balague, though, cannot see a return to Liverpool as it would mean 'risking his legacy', while a United move would be off the cards for the same reason, leaving a move to Chelsea a tempting proposition, however, if Arsenal entered the frame for the 32-year-old, it could prove a match made in footballing heaven, he argued.
'Alonso's days at Real Madrid look numbered,' wrote Balague. 'Liverpool would take him back in a heartbeat, but he knows to return to the club where he was a legend and take the risk of becoming a mere mortal is not an option.
'United would love him in their line-up [but] he would not contemplate the prospect of sullying his status as one of the Anfield greats by joining arch-rivals Manchester United.
'The appeal of the capital is also beckoning and Jose Mourinho will certainly want him at Chelsea. [However], don’t rule out a move to north London where he could be reunited with his best friend and former neighbour in Liverpool, Mikel Arteta, should Arsenal come up with the right deal - this would be the most fitting choice for personal and professional reasons.'
While clubs may regard a free transfer for Alonso to be a bargain, the sheer amount of clubs reportedly interested in recruiting him (including European sides such as Juventus and Paris Saint Germain) would mean a substantial signing-on fee (£4m minimum, could even be up to and over £10m) and attractive weekly wage (£80,000 per week at least) would need to be offered in order to seal any potential deal.
While the prospect of Alonso linking up again with Mesut Ozil, while also feeding Theo Walcott, compatriot Santi Cazorla, box-to-box giant Aaron Ramsey and spearheading striker Olivier Giroud is worth salivating over for any Gunners fan, his inclusion in Arsene Wenger's selection would likely come at the expense of the best mate who could recommend the club to him. Alonso would partner Mathieu Flamini, not Arteta.
image: © Jan S0l0