Xabi Alonso is worth breaking the rules.
According to the Daily Mail's Graeme Yorke, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is interested in bringing the former Red back to Anfield, but it would have to come at the slight of owner John W Henry's business model:
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will try to find out from club owner John W Henry if he is prepared to invest in an over-30s player after missing out on top target Henrikh Mkhitaryan who is joining Borussia Dortmund from Shakhtar Donetsk.
Rodgers is interested in Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso who is still revered on Merseyside but £10million for a 31-year-old is against Henry’s model.
The concern here is obvious.
Signing any player over the age of 30 for £10million is an incredibly risky proposition. A decline is surely on the horizon, and selling him for anything more than a bag of Doritos in a couple of years could prove to be next to impossible.
Throw in the fact that Alonso's preferred position is central midfielder, AKA Steven Gerrard's role, and there are undoubtedly downsides to this potential acquisition.
Should Liverpool be going after Xabi Alonso?
But this is a truly unique situation. As a still-apotheosized individual around Liverpool, Alonso shouldn't automatically be judged by a concrete set of rules.
The Spanish midfielder is worth just as much—if not more—off the pitch than he is on it.
Of course, that's not to say he isn't still a talented footballer.
In 28 La Liga appearances with Real Madrid last season, Alonso tallied 5 assists, completed 83 percent of his passes, won a spectacular 2.1 aerial duels per contest and finished with an average match rating of 7.29.
In typical Spanish midfielder fashion, he is a clinical distributor, capable of using his excellent vision to link with teammates via accurate short or long balls. He's a threat on set pieces. He can track back and mark very efficiently. He is a tactician out of the central midfield.
Additionally, as a player who relies more on intelligence than pace or athleticism, he is less at risk of a decline at this stage in his career.
Finally, if you're worried about his position relative to Gerrard's, the English midfielder said in November Alonso is "the best midfielder I've played with, I miss playing with him."
But back to the off-the-field stuff.
Alonso is a hero in Liverpool, and die-hard fans are willing to do whatever it takes to get him back:
Will quit smoking if Xabi Alonso comes back to Liverpool— D.K (@lame_soul) July 7, 2013
His jersey would sell like freakin' hot-cakes. He would put fans in the seats (albeit there's not much room for improvement there). And perhaps most importantly, he would instantly make Liverpool more competitive, giving the Reds a far more realistic chance at a top-four finish and thus more money.
£10million is steep for a 31-year-old, but Alonso's mix of talent and popularity minimizes the economic risk and makes this a signing Anfield should be clamoring for.