Bayern Munich’s capture of Xabi Alonso surprised many, but none doubted his ability. Alankrith Shankar gives us the reasons why his signing further enhances an already well equipped and crowded midfield.
Bayern have no shortage of central midfielders in truth. Bastian Schweinsteiger leads the contingent with Javi Martinez, Sebastian Rode, Thiago Alcantara, Pierre Højbjerg and Gianluca Gaudino, who are outright central mids but are also given support from the two wingbacks, Captain Philipp Lahm and David Alaba. That makes it a total of eight players who can play the CM role, but in truth only two are needed. With Xabi joining the list, it makes it nine. Nine players fighting for two spots when all are fit; that’s the epitome of squad depth, and more.
Yes, Bayern are suffering from a huge list of players who are on the treatment table, so the signing of Xabi Alonso can’t exactly be branded as unnecessary. To be quite honest, probably no one really expected Bayern to buy Mehdi Benatia and Xabi Alonso until Javi Martinez got himself injured for a whole season. Even then, probably just the signing of Benatia could have solved the problem, but Schweinsteiger, the midfield general of the team was not going to be fit for the first two months of the season and Thiago, Pep’s golden boy, had a minor setback which pushed his comeback a little farther. It is clearly a move to bring back the experience in to the midfield until the likes of Schweinsteiger and Thiago make a comeback.
But what happens after? Chaos? Maybe, but what until then? A side like Bayern can’t just sit back and rely on a wingback to play the role of Schweinsteiger week in week out. Not saying Lahm is not a good option for the central midfield role, his versatile nature is of course a boon to any manager. But to win the league, defend the double and probably have a go at the Champions League trophy, you will need an outright central midfield commander and that is what you get with Xabi Alonso.
The Schalke game is an ideal example as to why Xabi fits Pep’s tactics like a jigsaw puzzle piece in its position. He does the tracking back when needed to, plays those accurate long balls which players like Lewandowski and Muller will feast on; plus with his wide array of pin point passing, he can start counters when needed by just playing the ball into space for the likes of Arjen Robben, Mario Götze and Franck Ribery to lash on with pace and take it to the opposition’s half in a moment’s notice. How many times has it happened at Madrid? Plus, Xabi is a player who keeps it simple on most occasions, rarely puts a foot wrong.
That’s the kind of player that’s needed when you’re struggling against teams that are known to press hard and quick, he’ll be a great player to have on the pitch alongside a player who loves to go up and make quick exchange of passes like Rode and Thiago. Also, not to be ignored is Xabi’s abilities with set-piece. He seems to be the ideal replacement till Schweinsteiger makes a return to the first-team
Yes, Xabi was signed on the same day as the Champions League draw, but before the groups were drawn. After seeing the group Bayern have got, as a supporter one can only be jubilant that the club did after all sign him. Manchester City, AS Roma and CSKA Moscow, that’s the group of death right there and facing clubs like Manchester City who have free flowing attacks without a player like Schweinsteiger would be a nightmare. Thankfully, concerns are reduced to nearly zero due to the presence of Xabi Alonso..
Not only is he beneficial right now for Bayern during the games, players like Højbjerg and Gaudino the two young central midfielders in the Bayern squad now have two brilliant mentors to look up to. It’s a dream for any budding young midfielder to learn from players like them. Bayern have signed Xabi only on a 2 year deal. There may be contract extensions, but what a 2 year deal tells me, is that the club have got him only as a stop gap measure. Xabi would have surely been informed on his role in the side, while here is going to be massive rotations in the XI this season. This may not form a winning combination but if Pep does have a formula that will work with any XI, then who plays does not really matter. What this does is, it keeps all key players fit and raring to go at every opportunity. Will this deteriorate the squad harmony or will it keep the players hungry throughout the season until they have the silverware in their hands? That’s a question which I am waiting eagerly to answer. All I hope is, Xabi Alonso plays an integral part in leading the club to new heights this season.
Written by Alankrith Shankar.
Read all articles from our Bayern Munich team blog, FC Hollywood.
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