‘Alonso feels time is right to end speculation’

Guillem Balague - BBC Sport column

It’s official. Xabi Alonso is staying at Bayer Leverkusen next season.

Alonso has impressed the world in his first 18 months in senior management – after Leverkusen gave him his big break – and he believes there is still a job to do.

The German side are on the brink of a first Bundesliga title and are unbeaten in all competitions this season as they challenge for the Europa League and German Cup – which is why he Alonso attracted so much interest.

But having analysed all the options in detail – and there were four (staying at Bayer Leverkusen or going to Liverpool, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid) – Xabi has finally taken his decision.

The timing surprises many, including those close to him, because originally the plan was to wait for the next four games – two in the league, the semi-final of the cup and the first leg of the Europa League.

Everyone says he will win the league and can win the cups but at the moment he has won nothing. By waiting, he would have seen how close the team was to winning, how they were responding to the demands of trying to get titles and it would have given him more time to think.

Important factors in the decision were the family, the future of the squad – because if the squad were to be sold, it would have made no sense to stay at Leverkusen – and what he calls “to have a feeling about it”. That is what was always going to decide the timing – when he felt the time was right.

In the past 24 hours, he felt the time was right. He told the club he was going to announce it in Friday’s news conference and even Bayern Munich and Liverpool received a call in that direction.

He wanted to stop speculation affecting the team. In the last day, comments from even Bayern directors focused too much attention on his future and so Alonso decided to change his original strategy and stop the football world talking about what he was going to do next.

I am convinced he will end up being with Liverpool, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid one day but at the moment staying put is the decision he has made. But why?

Liverpool were immediately interested in their former midfielder when it was announced Klopp would be leaving the club at the end of the season.

He would have been a popular appointment with the fans but it is very hard to replace Klopp and he knows the one who does is going to have a massive job.

Also, there is a question over whether this Liverpool can be improved. Are there the finances for it, the patience for it and have they the talent to have the same sort of season next time? These are big questions.

In the case of Bayern, it would be perfect to go now when the team is a step below their usual form, especially if they lose the league.

But when you are a legend at Leverkusen, do you jump ship straight away when it was the first club that gave you the chance to manage in the elite? When you have given so much to the players and have seen them develop, when you think there is more to come from them?

Especially when you have to fight for the league with the team you are going to go to. On one hand, it would make sense to go now but on the other it just doesn’t – the timing was not right.

In terms of Real, he knew it would rely on current manager Carlo Ancelotti, who has renewed his contract, being sacked. And that would need a collapse in the league and being knocked out the Champions League by Manchester City in a bad way. Very unlikely.

Adblock test (Why?)