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Alonso: I almost joined Barcelona before Real Madrid

Former Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso revealed he almost joined Barcelona before he made the move to the Spanish capital.

Alonso, 35, left Premier League side Liverpool for Madrid in 2009, going on to win LaLiga, the Champions League, Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana before linking up with Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich five years later.

But it could have been a lot different for Alonso - who is set to retire at the end of the season - had it not been for the emergence of fellow Spaniard Sergio Busquets at Barca.

"It happened not long before I left for Real Madrid," Alonso told El Pais.

"Liverpool told me that they wanted to sell me, [manager at that time, Rafael] Benitez too, and Pep showed an interest in my situation.

"He wanted to sign me because, as he told Rafa, I was the type of player who would fit his [playing] model. But he had doubts because Busquets had just come through and had the makings of a tremendous player.

"Guardiola chose him, and he wasn't proved wrong."

Alonso has made 23 Bundesliga appearances this season as defending champions Bayern sit eight points clear atop the table.

He has also featured in six Champions League fixtures ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second leg against titleholders Real Madrid, who triumphed 2-1 in Munich.