Steven Gerrard blames 'stupid' Rafa Benitez 'entirely' for decision to sell former Liverpool team-mate Xabi Alonso

'Disastrous' to sell Alonso for just £30million, says Gerrard

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Former Liverpool captain has branded former boss Rafael Benitez as "stupid" for selling Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid.

After bringing to the Spanish midfielder to Anfield in 2004, Alonso quickly became one of the best players in the Premier League and was a key part in the club's Champions League win in 2005 and FA Cup victory in 2006.

But a season later Alonso suffered a dip in form and started only 16 Premier League matches, with Liverpool becoming linked to various other midfielders.

Alonso returned to his best in 2008-09, but by then he seemed determined to leave the club and was sold to Real Madrid for £30million - he went on to win league titles in Spain and in Germany, with current club Bayern Munich, as well as the Champions League in 2013-14.

He was also a key part of the Spanish team that won at three consecutive tournaments and continues to play a starring role for Pep Guardiola's Bayern.

Writing in his autobiography, My Story, which is being serialised by the Daily Mail, Gerrard blamed Benitez for his exit.

"It was clear Alonso was royalty after our first training session together in August 2004, and Rafa Benitez, who had been so clever to buy him in the first place, was equally stupid to sell him to Real Madrid five years later," Gerrard writes.

Gerrard blames 'stupid' Rafa Benitez

"He was, by some distance, the best central midfielder I ever played alongside.

"It was a disastrous decision to sell Alonso, and especially for just £30 million — which looks a snip now when you reflect on all he has achieved subsequently, both at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and with Spain, winning the Euros and the World Cup.

"I blame Rafa entirely for the loss of Alonso. He could still have been playing for Liverpool six or seven years after he left in 2009."