Marcos Alonso: Eighteen-years Ago Real Madrid Sent him Away, But Chelsea's Faith has paid off.
As a rising starlet, Manuel Pellegrini gave the Real Madrid academy graduate his first-team debut, but have been forced to seek his fortunes elsewhere, it was at Bolton and much later with Fiorentina in Italy, that the Spaniard started making headlines.
Chelsea stepped forward with £24million for his services in 2016, and since then, Marcos Alonso has become the perfect left-back for the five-time Premier league champions.
Blink and he punishes you.
Three goals against Arsenal, and two against Tottenham Hotspur, is a record many strikers and attacking midfielders would proudly carry around like a badge of honour, but for a certain Marcos Alonso, goal-scoring and exceptional match-winning strikes have become the norm.
Mention Marcos Alonso to any group of Tottenham supporters, and memories that emerge are those of a bitter August afternoon at Wembley. In the early weeks of 2016/17, the former Fiorentina man gave Chelsea the lead with a beautifully curled free-kick, before firing underneath a helpless Hugo Lloris in the eighty-eight minute to win it for Antonio Conte’s men.
In his debut season for Chelsea, The Spaniard arrived alongside David Luiz, N’golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi, and although the Belgian failed to live up to expectations, the other three became cogs in Antonio Conte’s wheel of Premier League triumph.
While N’golo Kante intercepted, recovered and redistributed the ball in record time, Marcos Alonso’s goal-scoring adventures helped unsettle defences to Chelsea’s advantage, but it also signalled just how instrumental he was to Antonio Conte’s success in England.
In January 2017, the former Real Madrid player struck twice against Leicester City, helping the Blues secure a 3-0 victory at the King Power Stadium, but his goals against Arsenal, Bournemouth and Middlesbrough set him on the part to become the highest scoring defender in Europe's top five leagues.
Form is temporary, but class? It’s permanent.
One of the few surprises of the 2017 Premier League Football Association’s team of the year remains the omission of Chelsea’s offensive-minded left-back. The chosen one was England International, Danny Rose, whose defensive contributions to Tottenham’s fascinating campaign received higher marks than Alonso’s productivity in the attack.
Chelsea and Antonio Conte did have a disappointing title defence last-term, finishing fifth below Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Yet, when the PFA team of the year was announced, it was hardly surprising that Marcos Alonso’s performances had earned him a place in the selection.
His brace in the 2-1 win against Tottenham helped Chelsea recover from a shocking opening day defeat to Burnley at Stamford Bridge, but while the Premier League Champions continued to struggle on the pitch, the Madrid-born wing-back flourished on the flanks.
Marcos Alonso’s winning goal against Southampton in December 2017 helped keep Chelsea’s top-four hopes alive, it was his third of the season, and in the second half of his second year with Antonio Conte, the free-scoring wing-back would net important goals against Brighton, Arsenal and Huddersfield for his sixth of the season, more than any other defender in the league.
Since the peak years of Ashley Cole at Stamford Bridge, Have Chelsea really boasted a left-back who stands head and shoulders above the rest in the league?
In Maurizio Sarri’s second game in charge, Marcos Alonso’s winner against Arsenal helped the blues secure three crucial points in a five-goal thriller at Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard has not missed a Premier League minute under Chelsea’s new manager, a clear indication of how well he fits into Italian puzzles.
Since moving to West London two years ago, the Real Madrid graduate has been directly involved in 20-goals for Chelsea, fourteen goals and six assists, but it has to be said, that his lack of awareness at the back has been exploited by opponents time and again.
Great as a wing-back, yet as a full-back in a 4-4-2 set-up, the Spaniard often struggles with his defensive duties.
However, with Maurizio Sarri speaking of the need for Chelsea to improve in the “defensive-phase” of their game, Marcos Alonso’s contributions in defence could get better as the season progresses.
Spanish publications have anointed him Marcelo Vieira’s successor at Real Madrid, daring to mention the 27-year-old in the same breath as the immortal Brazilian full-back, yet Alonso’s status as the best in England is perhaps proof, that this is not just another transfer headline from the rumor mills
Marcos Alonso’s versatility is his stock-in-trade, and if Real Madrid is going to lure the blonde Spaniard back to Spain's capital, they might have to break a transfer record to re-acquire his services.