Is Xabi Alonso Arriving at Bayern Munich from Real Madrid a Decline?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentAugust 28, 2014


Are Bayern Munich making a mistake signing Xabi Alonso from Real Madrid

Pending the successful completion of a medical, Alonso will join Bayern for €10/£8 million, per Sid Lowe at The Guardian.

Here is a scouting report on Alonso, a 32-year-old, 6'0", 163-pound Spaniard. 

Alonso Positives

Alonso is a winner, he is experienced, leads by example and reinforces Bayern's already loaded squad. His pedigree is second to none. 

When he was a 19-year-old playing for Real Sociedad, "everyone seemed to play better when he was on the pitch," according to then-Sociedad manager John Toshack, per Guillem Balague at The Observer (h/t The Guardian).

At Liverpool, then-teammate John Arne Riise asked himself this question regarding Alonso's contributions to the Reds, per "Why am I surprised that such a young man, who studies the game so intently, should be improving while still four years from the start of his prime?"

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 23:  Xabi Alonso (L) of Liverpool is congratulated by team mate John Arne Riise after scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premiership match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield on December 23, 2006 i
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

A Galacticos signing, Alonso helped Real win their first UEFA Champions League title in over a decade and broke Barcelona's monopoly in La Liga. 

Recently retired from the Spanish national team, Alonso was an ever-present midfield cog, winning a FIFA World Cup and two UEFA European Championships.

Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

"Alonso is a player that can not only pick out a pass," John Sinnott at BBC Sport wrote. "He is also a player who will invariably find his man."

Completing 88 percent of 61 passes per game in league play, Alonso has the same pass-orientated philosophy as Bayern manager Pep Guardiola.

One of the distinguished deep-passers of his generation, Alonso will be a creative outlet from a deep-lying position for Bayern.

In one instance, upon receiving the ball against Espanyol, Alonso anticipated Real right/left forward Jese Rodriguez's run and found him with an accurate, swift, over-the-top long pass.

Elsewhere, Alonso split the Levante defence with a whipped-in cross to then-Real centre-forward Gonzalo Higuain.

On another play, after creating extra space via a fake shot, Alonso pierced Valencia's defence with a through ball to Real centre-forward Karim Benzema.

Alonso also cleverly chipped the ball over Celta Vigo's defence to create a goal for Real left-forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Alonso Negatives

When you look at the projected combined transfer fee and salary, Alonso will cost Bayern around €15-20 million, per Marca

That is Toni Kroos' money.

Bayern could not convince Kroos, a 24-year-old German World Cup-winning star, to stay, yet managed to sign a 32-year-old Alonso who is just a big-name. 

Talk about short-term thinking. 

Is Alonso coming off a world-class season? No. 

There is not a lot separating Augsburg's Daniel Baier, 30, and Alonso, which should be frustrating for Bayern supporters. Yes, Alonso is a more refined passer, but Baier was one of the Bundesliga's best players last season and was the fourth-highest ranked midfielder, per Kicker


Baier is also a substantially better ball-winner than Alonso:

League Only 2013-14Daniel BaierXabi Alonso
Tackles Per Game3.32.4
Fouls Per Game0.91.7
Tackles Per Foul3.51.4
Interceptions Per Game3.31.5

Baier would cost a fraction of what Bayern will approximately spend on Alonso (€15-20 million in transfer fee and salary).

Even if you disregard Baier hypothetically being a more economically-efficient signing than Alonso, Bayern do not need the former Real midfielder. 

Yes, Sebastian Rode struggled last season, but he was one of the most dominant midfielders in the Bundesliga during the 2012-13 season for Eintracht Frankfurt.

His signing is rendered useless by Alonso. 

MUNICH, GERMANY - AUGUST 22:  Sebastian Rode of Muenchen controls the ball during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and VfL Wolfsburg at Allianz Arena on August 22, 2014 in Munich, Germany.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images For MAN)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Teenage prodigy Gianluca Gaudino, 17, was assured on the ball and was a viable passing outlet against Wolfsburg.

How about 19-year-old Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg? He is physically impressive and technically outstanding. 

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Bottom Line

Investing about €15-20 million in Alonso, an aging and deteriorating midfielder whose body has taken a battering through the years, is a slap in the face to Kroos, now with Real. 

Kroos deserved marquee money after paying his dues at Bayern to become one of the best midfielders in the world.

MUNICH, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08:  Kevin Davies of Bolton loses out to Toni Kroos during the  UEFA Cup Group F match between Bayern Munich and Bolton Wanderers at the Allianz Arena on November 8, 2007 in Munich,Germany.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images
Michael Steele/Getty Images

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 01:  Pep Guardiola head coach of Bayern Muenchen has words with Toni Kroos of Bayern Muenchen during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between Manchester United and FC Bayern Muenchen at Old Trafford on Ap
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Also, the minutes of Gaudino and Hojbjerg will decrease because of Alonso, thus derailing the development of the two Bayern talents. 

On paper, Alonso is an eye-catching signing for Bayern, but there are so many holes in it. 

Signing Alonso is emblematic of how Europe's wealthiest clubs operate: They stockpile big-name players and will figure it out on the fly. 



Statistics via WhoScored.


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