Rafa Benítez: Why I wanted Gareth Barry to replace Xabi Alonso at Liverpool | inside World Soccer


Rafa Benítez: Why I wanted Gareth Barry to replace Xabi Alonso at Liverpool

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Rafa Benítez has finally lifted the lid on the chase of Gareth Barry that sparked Xabi Alonso's exit from Liverpool.

Aston Villa Manager Martin O'Neill and Liverpool Manager Rafael Benitez (L) react to the action as Gareth Barry of Aston Villa looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on August 31, 2008 in Birmingham, England
Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill and Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez (L) react to the action as Gareth Barry of Aston Villa looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on August 31, 2008 in Birmingham, England.
Photo: Michael Regan/GETTY IMAGES


Alonso began his career at Real Sociedad before moving to Liverpool in 2004, where he established himself as one of Europe's best midfielders alongside Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano.

However, in the summer of 2008, Benítez decided he wanted to sell his compatriot with the view of signing Aston Villa midfielder Barry to replace him.

Barry would never play for Liverpool, with the England international later joining Manchester City, but the damage had been done with Alonso.

After being told he was able to leave the club if they signed Barry, Alonso obviously didn't want to hang around Anfield for too long and left for Real Madrid in 2009.

Following his departure, the Spanish midfielder had confirmed that Liverpool's pursuit of Barry was the catalyst behind him leaving Anfield.

The pursuit of Gareth Barry took some time for me to accept and, in all honesty, it changed the course of my future. I did get over it but it did take time for me to accept what had happened to me.

Leaving Liverpool was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but after what happened with Barry I knew in my heart I had to tell Rafa that I wanted to go to Madrid when they came knocking at the door.

In an interview with FourFourTwo magazine, Benítez has now spoken out and explained why he chased Barry at the expense of Alonso.

As a manager you have to think of the bigger picture, and in this case there was Barry, an English player who could play in a number of positions.

With the rules that were coming in we knew we would need more English players so we were trying to be prepared for that.

It became more complicated, but I think it was the right thing to try because Alonso was not playing at the same level as before.

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