Steven Gerrard blames "stupid" Rafa Benitez for selling Xabi Alonso
Liverpool never should have let Alonso go at that price, according to Steven Gerrard.
In his new book, My Story, serialised in the Daily Mail, Gerrard cited Alonso as the best central midfielder he's ever played with. The former Liverpool captain admitted he couldn't belive it when Rafa Benitez sold the Spaniard at such a low price.
"Three players stand out in my time at Liverpool. They all speak Spanish. Each of them unleashes a wave of emotion in me and in every Liverpool supporter: Fernando Torres. Xabi Alonso. Luis Suarez."
"It was clear Alonso was royalty after our first training session together in August 2004, and Rafa Benitez, who had been so clever to buy him in the first place, was equally stupid to sell him to Real Madrid five years later. He was, by some distance, the best central midfielder I ever played alongside."
Gerrard points the finger of blame squarely at Benitez over the sale of Alonso to Madrid. He claimed that the midfielder could have built up a magnificent legacy at Anfield if the Liverpool boss tried harder to keep hold of him.
"It was a disastrous decision to sell Alonso, and especially for just £30million — which looks a snip now when you reflect on all he has achieved subsequently, both at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and with Spain, winning the Euros and the World Cup.
"I blame Rafa entirely for the loss of Alonso. He could still have been playing for Liverpool six or seven years after he left in 2009."
If Alonso was the best Gerrard ever played with, then El Hadji Diouf was by far the worst.
Gerrard revealed that he studied every player on their first day of training to work out whether they would be a "king" like Alonso or a "prat" like Diouf.
"I had seen a staggering number of new signings walk into the Liverpool training ground."
"I watched every single one of their first training sessions with close attention, wondering whether we’d bought a star or another dud, a king or a prat, a Xabi Alonso or an El Hadji Diouf, a Luis Suarez or a Mario Balotelli."
"A few people have since asked me if I saw any comparison between Diouf and Mario Balotelli - and I’ve always said no. I’ve got respect for Balotelli; I’ve got none for Diouf."
Wow, harsh words indeed. It seems that Gerrard lost every ounce of respect for Diouf since the day, as he puts it, "spat a huge globule of gunky phlegm at a Celtic fan."