When Chelsea signed Marcos Alonso back in 2016, it certainly raised a few eyebrows. Sure, he’d played fairly well at Fiorentina, but with his only Premier League outings being for Bolton and Sunderland back in the day, it wasn’t the signing a team with league title aspirations would expect.
However, as we know, the Spaniard looked to be a golden nugget during the 2016/2017 season and played a pivotal role in Chelsea’s Premier League triumph. With the potential clearly there, the question now becomes: is Alonso one of Chelsea’s best signings in recent years? Well, the jury is certainly going to be out for another few seasons, but it’s clear he’s already being considered among the top contenders.
Indeed, if you look through the latest odds to bet on football at Sun Bet, Alonso’ presence clearly hasn’t harmed Chelsea’s potential with the bookmakers. OK, so the most recent lines have the Blues at 11/2 to win the league behind Manchester United (2/1) and Man City (7/5). However, at 1/16 to make the top six and 2/5 to make it into the Champions League, the man from Spain certainly hasn’t harmed Chelsea’s odds.
Of course, we can’t really rely on the odds to give us the answer to whether Alonso is the best transfer in recent seasons. Sure, the odds are great for telling us how the Premier League might pan out and earn us a few quid, but it can’t give us the full lowdown on the wingback’s credentials. To really assess the value of Alonso, we need to take a specific look at his skills.
The Pros like Him: Despite his “unique” style, Alonso has won the affections of some prominent ex-players, including Gary Neville. Speaking to Sky Sports in the wake of Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Tottenham, Neville pointed to Alonso’s size and experience as two of his best assets. Even though he’s only 26, Alonso has bounced around six different clubs, including Real Madrid, since 2009. With a number of top clubs on his CV, it’s easy to see why Alonso is maturing into his role. When you combine this experience with fresh legs and a solid frame, it’s obvious why Neville believes Chelsea fans shouldn’t overlook what they’ve got.
“It shouldn’t be taken for granted what they have there. To find someone of that size with that experience, a player who has matured in the game since being at Bolton, who is now getting more confident. I remember last year, when he went off at Old Trafford, they fell apart. He has had a brilliant day,” Neville said on Sky Sports.
He Hasn’t Taken a Back Step: His first season at Chelsea was positive and he hasn’t dropped off at the start of the 2017/2018. Unlike some players that start well (often in an effort to impress the gaffer) and then become too comfortable and fade, Alonso has hit the ground running this season. Following Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Everton, Alonso shot to the top of Sky Sports’ Power Rankings. Thanks to six crucial tackles and a passing success rate of 91 percent, that performance complemented two goals against Spurs to give him 7,669 Power Points.
Determination and Pressure: Perhaps the most important quality Alonso has in his bag is his determination. Against Tottenham he was the first to push forward when he could, step up for free kicks and generally take control any time he could. This desire to win is something you can’t teach and, potentially, the reason he could become a leading light for Chelsea in the coming seasons.
Is it too early to call Alonso a Chelsea legend? Probably, but he’s certainly surpassed expectations in the small amount of time he’s worn a blue shirt. Indeed, if he continues to impress as he has done in the last few months, there’s every chance he could become a star player over the next few years.
Daniel Smyth is a freelance betting and sports writer with experience covering everything from football, poker, boxing and MMA.