Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso has admitted he felt compelled to leave Anfield two years ago after losing the backing of manager Rafael Benitez.
The Spain international’s departure to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 came as no real surprise as he had been on the verge of leaving the previous year.
That was prompted by Benitez’s failed attempts to sign Gareth Barry from Aston Villa, which convinced Alonso he had to move on.
“At the end of that (2008) season, speaking to Rafa, he told me the situation and that he wanted to sign other players and I could be one of the replacements,” said the Real midfielder.
“If an offer would have come, probably I would have been sold.
“That’s when I told myself that the situation had changed – from being a very important player to being one of those who can be sold to get funds to sign other players.
“I accepted it because I am a professional but you have to realise what your situation is.
“At the end nothing happened because there was no agreement and we started my last season in Liverpool.”
In fairness to the Reds’ then manager Benitez, Alonso had just endured probably his poorest season since joining from Real Sociedad in the summer of 2004.
But conversely, seemingly spurred on by events, the Spaniard’s final campaign was also probably his best – it was certainly true for Liverpool who ran Manchester United very close in the title race with a record points haul.
“I didn’t feel I had a point to prove. I knew what I was capable of giving to the team and what I had given for the four years,” he told LFCTV.
“In the last one the team was really good. We were very competitive and it was a disappointment not to win the league.
“I was really happy with the team and my team-mates and felt that we could do great things.
“I was happy on that side but within a club you have to see the big picture and another season would have been too much for me.
“It was very difficult to take that decision (to leave) but it was probably for the best for me because if I had stayed another season it would have been uncomfortable for me.”