Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso has broken his foot while taking part in training, ruling him out for up to three months.
The club confirmed the news on their official website, and Alonso was close to a return having had surgery on a nagging groin injury in June that had ruled him out of Real’s Pre-season plans when he suffered a broken fifth metatarsal.
The 31-year-old has been a mainstay in the side since completing his 2009 transfer from Liverpool, and his presence was missed in the midfield on Sunday when Real scraped a 2-1 victory against Real Betis.
Alonso has been linked with a move back to the Premier League with both Chelsea and Liverpool believed to be interested. Alonso’s former coach at the Santiago Bernebeu Jose Mourinho has returned to Stamford Bridge and was reported to be interested in taking Alonso with him, although no official bids are said to have been received by the Spanish club.
The Spaniard had been pencilled in to return to action on Thursday in the Santiago Bernabeu trophy in the annual pre-season friendly against Qatar’s Al Sadd.
New Real boss Carlo Ancelotti has plenty of over options in midfield, with Luka Modric and Sami Khedira joined by new singings Casemiro and Asier Illarramendi, although Alonso’s absence robs the side of their best long-range passer.
Alonso will also miss Spain’s World Cup qualifier against Finland in September, with the national side leading Group I as they look to qualify for the tournament they won in South Africa in 2010.
He could also miss the first ‘El Cassico’ of the season, when Real travel to the Nou Camp to take on Barcelona on October 26.