Alonso and Valdes set to give up dream jobs play­ing for Span­ish gi­ants

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

FOR most Span­ish foot­ballers, and for mil­lions around the world, to play for ei­ther Real Madrid or Barcelona is, to use the old cliche, “a dream come true.”

To play for one of the Span­ish gi­ants means not only a mas­sive salary and a lux­u­ri­ous life­style, but also the chance to shine in the Cham­pi­ons League. How­ever, in re­cent years, sev­eral Span­ish play­ers have ac­tu­ally pre­ferred to go abroad, mostly to Eng­land and Ger­many. The likes of Fer­nando Tor­res, David Silva, Santi Ca­zorla and Je­sus Navas have opted for the English Pre­mier League, while young­sters Al­varo Dominguez and Thi­ago Al­can­tara have de­cided in favour of the Bun­desliga.

And right now, Real and Barça are both poised to lose one of their se­nior in­ter­na­tion­als. Vet­er­ans Xabi Alonso and Vic­tor Valdes are keen to leave Real and Barça re­spec­tively, to try their luck be­yond La Liga.

They have both re­fused all in­duce­ments to ex­tend their con­tracts, which fin­ish in June 2014. Ac­cord­ing to Fifa rules, on Jan­uary 1 – with six months left on their present con­tracts – they will both be free to ne­go­ti­ate with any club. Even more sur­pris­ing is the fact that they are not re­serves keen to have more play­ing time, but rather au­to­matic first-choices pop­u­lar with the fans.

Alonso, 32, seems de­ter­mined to re­turn to Eng­land, where he en­joyed suc­cess with Liver­pool from 2004 to 2009. He also seems dis­ap­pointed at the salary of­fered to him by Real, com­pared with what Gareth Bale and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo are earn­ing. Marca’s head­line on Fri­day was “Please Don’t Go!”, re­flect­ing the de­sire of the me­dia and the fans.

Marca also claimed that coach Carlo Ancelotti and Alonso’s team­mates are “try­ing tire­lessly to per­suade him to stay... be­cause they re­alise how very im­por­tant he is to the side.”

Alonso has been the ful­crum of the Real mid­field for the past four years. When­ever he is in­jured – as oc­curred in the first three months of this sea­son – the team lacks au­thor­ity, clar­ity, rhythm, char­ac­ter and ag­gres­sive­ness.

Mean­while, a group of Barça fans have launched an online pe­ti­tion for Valdes to stay, so aware are they of the im­por­tance of the lo­cal-born keeper in Barça’s tri­umphs since he be­came undis­puted first choice in 2003. The pe­ti­tion is ironic given that the in­tro­verted Valdes has never been a favourite of the fans to com­pare with Lionel Messi, Xavi, Car­les Puyol or An­dres Ini­esta.

How­ever, they re­alise the team will sorely miss the most suc­cess­ful keeper in the club’s his­tory – with three Cham­pi­ons Leagues and six Li­gas to his name. Valdes is be­lieved to be sit­ting on a lu­cra­tive of­fer from AS Monaco. – Sapa-dpa

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