XABI ALONSO is the talk of the town in Germany and Liverpool.
This has firmly put them on course to land their first Bundesliga title in their 120-year history.
Alonso has grown a strong reputation in coaching for his innovative and attractive brand of football.
Whether he is the man to replace the departing Jurgen Klopp at Anfield remains to be seen, given there are a number of other candidates to consider.
But what about the man away from the pitch and tactics board?
Star crossed lovers
Alonso is married to Nagore Aranburu.
They met when Alonso was still a teenager and playing for boyhood club Real Sociedad.
Alonso and Nagore have had three children together, Jontxe born in 2008, Ane, born in 2010 and Emma, born in 2013.
Nagore has worked as a model, actress and fashion designer.
But one hilarious tale came while she worked as a hotel receptionist in Liverpool.
Ex-Reds ace and Alonso team-mate Peter Crouch recalled the first time he met Nagore.
Crouch confessed his love at first-sight reaction to meeting Nagore, before Liverpool team-mates including Jamie Carragher broke the to him that she was with Alonso.
He said: “On signing for Liverpool I stayed at the Hope Street Hotel.
“On reception was a girl so good-looking I couldn’t quite believe she was smiling at me all the time.
“I told the lads in training, ‘honestly, she’s beautiful, I think I’ve got a shout here.’called a few other senior players over, ‘tell them again, Crouchie.’
“So I did, ‘amazing. Dark-haired. Spanish-looking. I’m in there.’ It turned out she was Xabi Alonso‘s partner.
“She was doing a bit of work to practise her language skills. He wasabout it. So was she. Carra less so.”
Despite their busy lifestyles, Alonso and Nagore have always been sure to make time to spend with one another.
Following Alonso’s retirement from football in 2017 the pair were spotted enjoying a walk on the beach during a family holiday to California.
Alonso has also revealed the pair love a trip to the museum and going for a mountain drive with the family.
Petrolhead and modelling
Perhaps it is an echo of his sleek playing style, but whenever Alonso is pictured in a car it is one of elegant design.
And his fashion sense goes in the same direction.
During his time in Munich, Alonso modelled for Porsche and Adidas as they launched the Design Sport SS17 and sportswear range.
However, when going to training he would drive a rather inconspicuous Audi, rather than his classic Mercedes 190 SL convertible.
Cost estimates for that car today put it between £70,000 to £166,000.
One thing Alonso can’t stand is the idea of tattoos on his body.
In a 2016 interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Alonso said: “They [friends] know that they have zero chance with me.
“By the way, I am not againstin principle. It may well be that this looks cool on others.
“But not for me. I just can’t imagine myself with piercings, chains or anything else. Obviously, I’m hopelessly old-fashioned.”
Alonso is also pretty fed up of the idea that footballers have bad taste in music and TV shows, saying: “It’s the eternal cliché that footballers don’t have taste.
“I think that’s pretty unfair. But I already know that, I’ve gotten used to it.”
He has previously raved about hit shows like True Detective and Fargo, describing them as “masterpieces”, while also revealing bands he has listened to.
The Shins, The Flaming Lips, The Delgados, The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed to name a few.
Special moments are like watch links
Despite his often suave appearance, Alonso is not one who often dresses to impress.
But when he does, he goes all out, and watches are the crown jewel of his wardrobe.
Alonso has likened special moments in his life and career to links in a watch.
He told The Journal: “For me, every special moment is bound to be linked to a particular watch, and whenever I put it on I’m transported back to that moment – such as when we won the Champions League with Liverpool or the World Cup with Spain.”
Jurgen Klopp’s successor?
By Dan King
XABI ALONSO ticks almost every box to succeed Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager, and if Bayer Leverkusen don’t let their lead at the top of the Bundesliga slip the case for him to do so will be irresistible.
The former Kop idol knows the club inside out after five seasons at Anfield and has made no secret of his enduring affection.
Alonso has already forged a reputation as an innovative coach playing an attractive, pressing style, usually in a fluid 3-4-2-1 formation.
He has taken Leverkusen from second bottom of the Bundesliga to seven-points clear at the top, putting them on course to be crowned German champions for the first time in their 120-year history.
It’s worth remembering that both Rafa Benitez and Klopp arrived at Anfield with proof they could dethrone clubs who dominated their leagues
For Alonso to do the same, in only his second season as a top-flight manager, would mark him out as something special.
It is that lack of long-term experience that would still make appointing him to replace Klopp a gamble.
But otherwise, he looks like the perfect candidate as Liverpool are forced to plan a future without the man who made them champions of England, Europe and the world.
in his collection include Rolex, Patek Philippe, Franck Muller, Audemars Piguet and Panerai – not that he has a particular desire to show off such accessories for fear of coming across as vulgar.
However, his favourite and most special member of his watch collection was a gift from Nagora on their wedding day – an IWC Ingenieur – worth £10,500 according to Switzerland.of
For Alonso, the stunning watch “represents the fact that I had found a woman who thought about me, about what I like, and my personality.
“I don’t wear it much, just on really special occasions.”
Alonso says he likes IWCin general because “they’re not overly showy, attention-grabbing watches” and “have a certain sophistication without being flashy”.
The old saying goes: “You can tell a lot about a man from the shoes he’s wearing and the watch he has on.”
And it seems for Alonso, simple but beautiful efficiency is runs through everything he does.