Xabi Alonso faces three months on the sidelines after fracturing a metatarsal at training with Real Madrid on Wednesday morning.
Alonso was nearing a comeback from the groin operation which saw him miss Spain’s Confederations Cup campaign, and had been tipped to play in the ‘XXXV Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu’ exhibition game against Raul Gonzalez’s current team Al-Sadd on Thursday evening.
However, the Basque midfielder will now likely not be available to new coach Carlo Ancelotti until early December at the earliest. News of the new injury was confirmed via Madrid’s website early on Wednesday afternoon.
“Real Madrid player Xabi Alonso has today suffered a fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his foot, as has been revealed by X-ray tests carried out by the club’s medical services Real Madrid Sanitas,” said the short club statement, which did not specify the expected recovery time.
Blancos left-back Marcelo suffered a similar injury in training with Brazil in October 2012, and did not return to full training until January 2013.
The news is a further headache for Ancelotti, who had highlighted a lack of midfield ‘balance’ as the major issue facing his side after Sunday’s patchy 2-1 opening day victory over Real Betis.
Alonso had been expected to return and bring a steadying influence to the side, allowing more creative team-mates Isco, Mesut Ozil and Luka Modric to concentrate more on playmaking.
Madrid’s €38 million summer signing Asier Illarramendi was brought in as Alonso’s long-term replacement when he arrived from Real Sociedad; however the Spain U-21 starlet has himself been out with a muscle problem picked up soon after arriving at the Bernabeu in June. He has not played since and is unlikely to be ready to make his debut until early September.
Ancelotti can still call on Sami Khedira to play alongside Modric in the centre of the park, but the German did not impress in a ‘holding’ role against Betis. Brazilian youngster Casemiro, who impressed in pre-season and replaced Khedira early in the second half last weekend, could now be set for a prolonged run in the first team.
Alonso’s injury also means that talks to extend his current Madrid contract, which ends in June 2014, will likely be put on hold. The former Liverpool man, who turns 32 in October, had reportedly been planning on seeing how his fitness held up this season before making a decision on his future. Chelsea and Juventus are among the clubs who are reportedly interested in signing him on a free transfer next summer, should he decide to move on.