The sum of the text on the official website, in sum, is thus:
Liverpool Football Club this evening confirmed they had reached agreement for the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, subject only to a medical.Verbose, as usual.
The terms of the deal will remain confidential and undisclosed.
And, continuing with the laconic theme, I’m of little mind to eulogize Alonso’s stint, as I often do when players are sold. I’ve written more than enough proclaiming the Spaniard’s talents and contributions to the team over the past few months. Plus, and no offense meant, but Alonso’s been a more-integral part of the team than say, Arbeloa, Luis Garcia, or Warnock. No player’s bigger than the club, and Gerrard, Torres, Mascherano, and Reina are more important to the current team, but I’m still going to have to come to terms with this sale. Yes, even though it’s been in the works for weeks, I’m still not a happy camper.
So, for at least now, I’ll just say, ‘Thanks for the last five years, Xabi, enjoy your time with the other mercenaries you’re now teammates with. I hope the tax cut is worth it.’
You can read one of two things into Liverpool’s above statement. Either the fee was less than Liverpool’s supposed hard-line, or Benitez doesn’t want to tie his hands in regards to future business by showing his budget. Either way, I don’t think the fee amounts to Xabi’s true worth, especially when it’s Madrid who set the crazy market in the first place, but that’s more as a result of Alonso’s talent rather than whatever total Liverpool recouped.
And either way, the summer’s long, drawn-out saga reaches the end of phase one. Yep, only phase one. We still have, at most, a month left of speculation over replacements. Awesome. And yep, "replacements." I used the plural for a reason. I don't know if one purchase will be enough to fill the void.
I imagine most have seen the Aquilani gossip since Monday. Marca (sigh) says a £15.3m deal was negotiated (sorry for the Goal.com link), contingent upon the sale of Alonso. I don’t catch a ton of Serie A, but I thought him a player similar to Paul Scholes, who plays further up the field. Maybe Benitez sees him if a different position in England, or maybe he sees a more mobile formation, similar to Barca last season: Mascherano holding deep, Gerrard and Aquilani in the Iniesta/Xavi positions, and two of Kuyt/Babel/Benayoun playing closer to Torres.
But the Football Manager-esque speculation can wait for another day. Players will be bought, but Xabi Alonso’s going to be very hard to replace. And there are only 12 days until the league starts.