Xabi Alonso transfer request - the verdict
NEWS that Xabi Alonso has handed in a written transfer request is a major disappointment to Liverpool fans but little surprise.
It had become increasingly clear throughout the summer's saga that the 27-year-old had his heart set on a move to Real Madrid.
He had consistently refused to reveal his intentions but his silence spoke volumes about where he saw his future.
During last week's tour of the Far East, Asian Liverpool fans pleaded with Alonso to stay.
However, he replied: "It's difficult to give any guarantees."
Boss Rafa Benitez always insisted Alonso was not for sale and vowed to hold on to the talented midfielder.
However, Benitez has grown increasingly frustrated at the ongoing speculation and admitted after last Sunday's 5-0 win over Singapore that he didn't know if Alonso would play for the club again.
Alonso hoped Liverpool would accept a bid and he could secure his switch to Real without putting in an official transfer request.
But Benitez has dug in, determined to ensure if Alonso did go it was clear who had been the driving force behind the move.
Benitez didn't want to be portrayed as the man responsible for agreeing to sell one of the club's top stars to their European rivals.
A stand-off has developed but Benitez's decision to give Alonso a 48-hour deadline to sort out his future has paid off with the player finally going public on his desire to quit Anfield.
It's all a far cry from five years ago when Benitez took over as boss and made Alonso his number one target.
It took ÃÂ£10.7million to prise him away from Real Sociedad and the Spanish international proved a major hit.
However, their relationship was soured last summer when Alonso was almost sold to Juventus in order to finance a bid for Aston Villa's Gareth Barry.
Ultimately, Alonso stayed put and enjoyed a fine season but the episode convinced him to cut short his stay on Merseyside.