With the clock slowly but inexorably running down on Xabi Alonso’s Real Madrid contract, just whose shirt the Basque midfielder will be wearing next is something nobody can answer yet.
Diario AS and Marca have reported just now that he has renewed for two years even though other clubs were paying him more.
Bearing in mind the fact that neither he nor his team had not spoken to Madrid for over a year, the development has only taken place in the last few hours. The offer from the club had been on the table and waiting to be answered for months.
The signing of Asier Illarramendi from Real Sociedad, the same club where Alonso learnt his trade, as someone they thought would be a logical replacement for the ex-Liverpool man meant Los Blancos went cold on initiating talks about a renewed contract.
Unfortunately for them, Illara does not yet look the finished article and the club were desperate to keep Alonso to the extent that they will be prepared to match terms and conditions offered by any other club. They are prepared to offer a two-year deal with another year's option.
The player has always considered himself to be the master of his own destiny and that there was and are a list of suitors as long as your arm looking for his signature.
While money is always a major consideration—in addition to huge wages, there’s the small matter of a signing-on fee of between €5 million to €10 million, because by August the player will be a free agent—the truth is, it is not the sole determining factor.
He has to feels physically fit to stay in the elite, which is another crucial point. Staying at Real means he will give the last good years of his professional life to the Whites and possible retire at Real Sociedad.
It would have been easier to determine were he was not going to go.
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. I see him as a manager at Anfield in the future.
He is, nonetheless, a true lover of Liverpool and for that reason, as the thinking footballer that he is, he never contemplated the prospect of sullying his status as one of the Anfield greats by joining arch-rivals Manchester United, no matter what they offered. Make no mistake about it; United would have loved him in their line-up.
His preference would have seemed to be either stay at Madrid or a return to the Premier League, so that would seem to rule out the likes of Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.
Mind you, the French club are believed to have made him an eye-watering offer of €40 million over three years—according to El Pais' Diego Torres—which will have to be taken seriously.
Manchester City are certainly contenders to secure his services with, what my sources tell me is, a €10 million signing-on fee plus a net €7 million a year.
The prospect of seeing him line up in midfield with Yaya Toure and Fernandinho is indeed truly mouth-watering and certainly something he would also relish.
But the appeal of the capital could also beckoning and Jose Mourinho will certainly want him at Chelsea.
Alonso wasn't one of the players that the spiky Portuguese coach had problems with in his turbulent reign at the Bernabeu, but would he really want to go back to a regime run by Mourinho?
How about a move to north London where he could be reunited with his best friend and former neighbour in Liverpool, Mikel Arteta?
In my eyes, this would be the most fitting choice for personal and professional reasons.
But finally staying at Madrid is possible the safest bet and the little dream of going to England would have to be satisfied as a coach in the future.