Bayern Munich have reportedly agreed to a transfer deal with Real Madrid for star midfielder Xabi Alonso, and Los Blancos will live to regret the events that led up to the veteran handing in his transfer request.
Bayern's Jan-Christian Dreese confirmed at a press conference that a deal had been struck, with the player's medical the only thing standing in the way of a transfer, as reported by Goal.
"It is correct that we have been in talks with Real Madrid and Xabi Alonso," he said. "We have basically reached an agreement. The player will arrive in Munich later on Thursday to undergo his medical."
The transfer of the 32-year-old central midfielder comes as a shock to pundits and fans worldwide—unlike most high-profile moves, there had been little warning given that Alonso was unhappy.
He's not the first star midfielder to leave the Spanish capital this summer, with Angel Di Maria bolting for Manchester United. And while the departure of the Argentine speedster left a sour taste in everyone's mouth, it's nothing compared to Alonso's exit.
For starters, as reported by BeIN Sports' Tancredi Palmeri, Los Blancos are hardly turning a profit on their longtime starter:
What an efficiency, Bayern Munich already closed the signing of Xabi Alonso for 10m€— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) August 28, 2014
And €10 million isn't just a good deal for Bayern—it's highway robbery. Alonso isn't some aging veteran player stuck on the bench most of the time. As shared by OptaJose, he was Real's leading passer in four of the past five seasons:
4 - In four of the last five La Liga seasons, no player completed more passes for Real Madrid than Xabi Alonso. Farewell— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 28, 2014
But Los Blancos are losing more than just a gifted passer. They're losing their most accomplished holding midfielder, whose positioning and vision have almost reached legendary status.
Di Maria's pace, drive and nose for goal will be missed, but those factors can be offset by the arrivals of Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez. However, neither boasts the kind of defensive ability Alonso does. As good a player Kroos may be, he simply doesn't fill the same role.
On the pitch, Alonso brings so much more than just passing and defending. He's experienced, a passionate leader, a voice of authority and a player teammates look up to.
His defensive ability was seen as instrumental to this new Real squad, as so much attacking depth will inevitably lead to plenty of open spaces for opposing players. Alonso's excellent vision was needed to deal with these spaces.
Off the pitch, he was one of the club's most beloved players, a fan-favourite for his demeanor, splendid beard and impeccable dress sense. He was a symbol of Real, one of the few constants in a team that brings in superstars every single season. He was simply loved in the Spanish capital.
He now becomes the second vital contributor of last year's Decima-winning team to leave the club in the summer of 2014. And why? BeIN Sports USA's Andres Cordero has a theory:
How do you fit James into Madrid's best XI? Weaken it by shipping Di Maria and Xabi Alonso out of town.— Andres Cordero (@DreCordero) August 28, 2014
The reality is a little more complex, but amidst all of the talk of new arrivals, Florentino Perez did nothing to assure his current stars would still have a spot on his team. For months, the club courted new stars and left its veterans in the cold, and now the damage is done.
Di Maria's departure weakened the squad, but Rodriguez and Kroos are good enough to pick up the slack. Unless a new star holding midfielder like Arturo Vidal arrives to take Alonso's place, no one will be able to replicate what the former Spanish international brought to the table.
Bayern Munich will be a much stronger team with Alonso on the pitch. As soon as the dotted line is signed, Los Blancos will be a lot weaker. And ultimately, Perez only has himself to blame.