Barry talk forced me out, says Xabi Alonso

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
PHOTO: Phillip ChambersSpaniard talks of transfer speculation that eventually led to his Anfield departure
PHOTO: Phillip Chambers

PHOTO: Phillip Chambers

For the first time since his summer move to Real Madrid, Xabi Alonso has lifted the lid on why he left Anfield to join the Florentino Perez revolution.

The Spaniard, hailing from the Basque region of Spain, returned to his homeland in the summer after five successful years with Liverpool. It was a move which disappointed Reds fan who were desperate to hang onto their midfield dynamo.

In the eyes of many pundits and supporters, the fortunes of the Merseyside club since Alonso’s departure have only highlighted his importance to the side. Benitez splashed out £20 milllion on Alberto Aquilani but the Italian has failed to hold down a regular starting spot.

Meanwhile Alonso has helped propel Real to second place in La Liga, remaining within a point of title rivals Barcelona.

Alonso revealed in an interview yesterday that Liverpool’s pursuit of former Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry in the summer of 2008 was the catalyst for his eventual £30 million move away from the club.

The deal failed to materialise and Alonso remained at Liverpool for one more season. However, the foundations had been laid for the Spaniard to move away from the club as he was left feeling unwanted by manager Rafa Benitez.

Speaking about the move Alonso said: “The pursuit of Gareth Barry took some time for me to accept and, in all honesty, it changed the course of my future.”

He added: “Leaving Liverpool was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but after what happened with Barry I knew in my heart I had to tell Rafa that I wanted to go to Madrid when they came knocking at the door.”

Despite moving on, Alonso insists he still remains in contact with his former team-mates and that he will always be grateful for the impact his spell at Anfield had on his career.

Reflecting upon this he said: “I was still fairly young when I joined Liverpool and I had not only grown into the player I’d become there, but also the man I’d become.”

“The club gave me so much and I made some great friends – and the Liverpool fans are beyond excellent. It was such a hard decision for me but I knew in my heart it was the right time to leave.”

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