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Rafael Benitez was happy to let Alonso go in the summers of both 2008 and 2009, and he eventually joined Real Madrid as the Reds tried and failed to sign Gareth Barry.

Ex-Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas says his former Spain international teammate Xabi Alonso was “dying to come” to the Gunners towards the end of his spell at Liverpool.

Alonso won the Champions League in his first season with the Reds in 2004/05, and followed that up by picking up the FA Cup the following campaign.

But by the summer of 2008 an apparent falling out with manager Rafael Benitez had started to see his Anfield spell turn sour, and he was said to be close to the exit door as Benitez sought to make the unpopular decision to replace the fans’ favourite with Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry.

Alonso ended up staying for one more year before joining Real Madrid in 2009, but Fabregas says that he was interested in a switch to the Gunners around that time.

“I was with Xabi on the phone the whole summer,” the World Cup winner told the Arsecast podcast.

“He was dying to come. He was literally begging everyone to go to Arsenal, he really wanted to come.

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