Alonso: Rafa helped make up my mind

Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso has revealed that Rafael Benitez's attempt to sell him to Juventus 12 month's ago did influence his decision to leave Liverpool for the Bernabeu.

The 27-year-old Spaniard was widely expected to depart to either Juve or Arsenal at the end of last season, with Aston Villa skipper Gareth Barry due to join the Merseysiders.

However, a move for either player failed to materialise, with Alonso going on to have one of his best seasons in a Liverpool shirt, anchoring Benitez's outfit to within a whisker of pipping Manchester United to the Premier League title.

The former Real Sociedad midfielder - who has won 64 caps for Spain - did finally depart in August, joining Karim Benzema, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo as part of Real's £200 million summer spending spree.

And he has since admitted that Benitez's willingness to sell him a year ago helped make up his mind that it was time to move on.

"It was a reason, but not the only one," he said in Sport.

"I just needed to start afresh, to be part of a new team and get new impressions. When I first heard about the new Real Madrid project, I knew I wanted to be a part of it."

And Alonso insisted he had no regrets about leaving Liverpool - with whom he reached two Champions League finals - and felt that he left the club in the right way.

"I had five great years in Liverpool but it is only healthy for every footballer to change environment after a period in the same club, so I'm very pleased I came here," he said.

"Maybe some of the fans or people in the club don't agree or don't understand my motivations for leaving.

"But i think I can look myself in the mirror and know that I did everything possible for Liverpool, and I was committed throughout. I left Liverpool in a far better condition than when I came in 2004."

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