Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has acknowledged the stunning form of Xabi Alonso, the midfielder he tried so hard to sell in the summer.
And the Spanish coach dismisses that scenario as “just business” as Liverpool sit on top of the Premier League following Alonso’s winner at Chelsea on Sunday.
Alonso can expect to be in midfield tomorrow when Portsmouth visit Anfield, knowing that had Juventus upped their summer bid for him, he would probably be playing in Serie A now while Gareth Barry would have been in Liverpool’s squad.
Benitez needed the money from an Alonso sale to bolster his bid to bring Barry from Aston Villa, a protracted and bitter pursuit that ended with the England midfielder staying put.
But Benitez is unmoved by the emotion of the situation, knowing full well that Alonso did not want to leave and has outlined the months of anguish he suffered not knowing where his future lay.
Benitez said: “What happened in the summer with Alonso is just football, and you always have to try to change things.
“Maybe I will now tell half a dozen players that I may sell them, maybe they will all start to play as well as Xabi!
“It doesn’t matter whether I change my mind about something or the player changes his mind. What matters is that as a manager if I have a good player, a good professional, I will use that player for the benefit of the team.
“He is our player and we will try to take the best from him.”
Benitez added: “He is showing the quality we know he has. Always he is a good professional, a good player.
“Just like Peter Crouch, who we sold to Portsmoith, people must not forget that these were players I wanted to sign, and did sign. They are good players.
“We did not sell Xabi in the summer because the price was not good enough for such a talented player.
“That is simple, this is a football market, and now he is showing character and we have a very positive situation with competition for every place in the side being very high.
“Alonso and Barry are two different issues. Barry is still a very good player, a fantastic player. As is Alonso.
“Now Alonso is playing well and the team are playing well, that applies to everyone from Steven Gerrard to Daniel Agger.”