When Chelsea signed the relatively unknown Marcos Alonso from Fiorentina, no one imagined that he would go on to become indispensable for Antonio Conte, and now undroppable for Maurizio Sari, providing more goals and assists than any other Premier League defender during that time as well.
In fact, one of the main reasons for Chelsea’s 0-0 draw against West Ham yesterday was the relatively negligible impact made by Alonso. Performances like these have been rarities for the 27-year-old and they certainly do not mesh with his intention to become one of the best in the world. Already voted into the Premier League’s team of the season last year, he just wants to keep improving.
“That’s why I came to Chelsea. When you come to one of the top teams in the world with some great players, you can fight for that spot and that’s what I try to do.
”I want to keep improving and to work hard to be one of the best. I want to score more goals, I want to give more assists, I want to do more tackles.
”Everything I can do to help this team is good for the team and good for myself.”
Sarri’s feeding this ambition not only by his tactics and coaching, but by his public statements as well, claiming that Alonso could become the best left back in Europe ... if he continues to improve in the “defensive phase”.
“I feel good. I’m enjoying the new manager, I’m enjoying my team-mates, I’m happy here at Chelsea
”I’m obviously still hungry for more. It’s going to be a tough season, lots of teams are fighting for everything but I want to win all the titles we are playing for.
”For that we have to work hard and I have to be ready for tough times. It’s never easy to get the points at the beginning of the season and even more with a new manager. We are still on our way to where we want to get.
”I think we are doing well and getting points but we still have to improve and we still have to play better. If we do this we will be up there fighting for every title.”
Unfortunately, we couldn’t improve in time for the West Ham match and as Alonso said, it’s never easy to get points
at the beginning of the season in the Premier League.
Of course, this isn’t Alonso’s first rodeo in England, or even his second, having previously played for Bolton Wanderers and then on loan from Fiorentina at Sunderland. He may not have had those teams in mind when he was coming through the youth system at Real Madrid, but they’ve all helped him become the player he is today.
“They were all very important stages in my career. Before Bolton I played for Real Madrid and I was getting involved in the first-team training since I was 16 and then I played with the first team at 18.
”Bolton was another important stage for me. I learned a lot, even if I didn’t fight for any titles. We were not too close, only one semi-final of the FA Cup and then I went to Sunderland for only four or five months and we fought relegation. At the end of the day we did a very good second half and we played in the final of the (2016 League) Cup.
“That was all very important for me to be the footballer I am today. You learn more when it’s hard than when it’s easy. I’m very happy about my career, and I’m proud of having played in Bolton and Sunderland. Still today I follow them and want what’s best for them.
”That makes you enjoy the good moments even more and fight to keep playing for a good team and keep playing for titles and not fighting for relegation. It was perfect for me to improve as a player and to learn. I’m very happy with my career.”
-Marcos Alonso; source: Sky Sports
It didn’t quite come together for Chelsea or Alonso against West Ham on Sunday. Here’s hoping that’s just a small blip on the road to an ultimately successful season ahead.