Scarcely do you mention a former Sunderland and Bolton player in the context of being among the best in the world, but Marcos Alonso’s rapid ascension has propelled him to heights that he otherwise would have deemed unobtainable.
Despite graduating from Real Madrid’s academy, Alonso only made one appearance for the Spanish giants that consisted of being introduced in the 90th minute in a 2-0 victory against Racing de Santander. In the eyes of several people, a move to Bolton had concluded the Spaniard’s prospects of representing an excellent team, but defiantly, Alonso progressed from strength to strength, and he’s been a marvellous acquisition for Chelsea.
Upon his arrival as a deadline-day purchase, his signature was widely dismissed as a panic buy, yet, during his spell as a blue, Alonso has earnt his status as being one of the most accomplished attacking full-backs in world football.
Before becoming a Chelsea player, Alonso was seldom considered to be a prolific goalscorer, the highest total of goals that he had amassed in one season had been three goals – a season total that he attained twice during his career. During his first season in West London, the Spaniard doubled that total and improved upon his tally last season, amassing eight goals in all competitions.
His form this term has been equally imposing, in five league games, Alonso has already contributed towards five goals, scoring one and registering four assists. For a player that has operated as a wing-back throughout the majority of his career, it’s clear that the 27-year-old is far more proficient going forward, than fulfilling his defensive duties.
That view has been reaffirmed by Sarri himself, who openly disclosed his yearning for Alonso to improve in the defensive phase. This isn’t to suggest that the Spaniard is a poor defender, rather, his defensive quality isn’t comparable to his attacking exploits. If the fan favourite can improve defensively, then it would be exceedingly difficult to identify a superior left-back in world football.
Naturally, having scored 15 goals in just over two seasons – a remarkable achievement for a defender – Alonso has gained the admiration of several throughout the football community. But merely evaluating the Spaniard on his statistics disregards important aspects of his game. While he is exceptionally talented at scoring free-kicks, he has displayed his ability to score a variety of goals, be that with his head, right-foot or favoured left-foot.
Furthermore, his offensive awareness is astonishing and is akin to that of an archetypal poacher Alonso continually occupies favourable positions which is no coincidence. He has developed a propensity of being in the right place at the right time.
Marcos Alonso v Salonika
His understanding extends beyond intelligent awareness; he can craft chances by exploiting space, as was illustrated in Chelsea’s 3-2 win against Arsenal, where he darted along the left-wing before playing a perfect ball into the path of his countryman.
Alvaro Morata’s woes in front of goal have been evident since transferring to the club, and while Olivier Giroud has impressed with his imaginative build-up play, Marcos Alonso is arguably the most potent finisher at Chelsea. Whether he’s shooting from inside or outside the box, he is more than capable of regularly finding the back of the net.
Recently, the evolution of the full-back has undergone a rapid progression, and defenders are expected to contribute effectively at both ends of the pitch. As has been highlighted, Alonso isn’t the most proficient defender, but his attacking endeavours become even more commendable when you compare his statistics to some of his leading positional rivals.
Marcelo and Alex Sandro, Brazilian teammates, are widely considered as two of the best full-backs in the modern game. Andrew Robertson is another full-back who has been commended for his capacity to impact the game at either end of the pitch purposefully.
During their respective league campaigns last season, Marcelo contributed towards eight league goals (scoring two and registering six assists), Alex Sandro also contributed towards eight goals (scoring four and assisting four), while Robertson contributed towards six goals (scoring and one and providing five assists). By comparison, Alonso contributed towards nine goals (scoring seven and assisting two).
As previously mentioned, he has already contributed towards five goals in the Premier League this term which is illustrative of his ever-improving quality. If Alonso sustains his stupendous form and makes the desired alterations to his game, he’ll be soon regarded as the best left-back on the planet.