Xabi Alonso’s decision to leave Real Madrid for Bayern Munich in 2014 was not an escape and was purely down to his desire to test himself in another country again.
After joining from Liverpool five years prior, Alonso somewhat surprisingly opted to leave the Santiago Bernabeu after winning the Champions League, prompting speculation he was pushed out.
But the experienced midfielder has nothing but fond memories of his time in the Spanish capital as he prepares to return to his former hunting ground on Tuesday, when Bayern will look to overturn a 2-1 defeat from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.
“It was not an escape. I did not flee from anything,” Alonso, who will retire at the end of the season, told El Pais.
“It was not like I was uncomfortable at Madrid. I had been at the club for five years, won the Champions League and had to make a decision whether I wanted to try another country or retire at Madrid, where I was very happy.
— Xabi Alonso (@XabiAlonso) April 17, 2017
“The final decision went very quick. Pep [Guardiola] really wanted me at Bayern and I took a very difficult decision by leaving Madrid on a voluntary basis.
“A lot has been said and written about my departure, but the truth is quite simple. I wanted to test myself in another country before retiring.
“You have to know when to say goodbye. I always try to leave at the right time.”
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