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Xabi Alonso responds to Real Madrid links

Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso has delivered his verdict on recent speculation linking him with a coaching role at Real Madrid.

Carlo Ancelotti is set for his last season at the Santiago Bernabeu after agreeing to become the head coach of Brazil’s national team at the end of 2023/24.

Whoever replaces the former AC Milan tactician will face a mammoth task, with the 64-year-old setting a benchmark high by winning everything there was to win with Madrid.

Despite having plenty of time to find a suitable replacement for the Italian genius, Los Merengues seem to have already made their choice, identifying Alonso as Ancelotti’s successor.

It must be flattering to be linked with such a prominent role, but the Spaniard prefers to keep his feet firmly on the ground, though he refuses to rule out a potential return to the capital.

“Real Madrid? Everything in its own time,” he told Marca.

“Now I’m here, I’m very happy, and what has to come in the future will be seen.

“Normally in football when you think in the medium or long term you lose focus on what’s closest to you, and right now I only think what we have here.

“Now the main objective is to get into the Champions League. That will be seen at the end of the season.”

Alonso embarked on his coaching adventure in Madrid, joining the club’s youth ranks in 2018, a year after calling time on his trophy-laden career.

However, he only lasted a year at the Bernabeu before switching to the Real Sociedad youth academy, where he spent three years perfecting his skills.

Despite lacking experience in senior management, the 41-year-old received a somewhat unexpected call from Leverkusen after the sacking of Gerardo Seoane in October 2022.

Die Werkself were second from bottom at the time of his arrival but eventually finished sixth in the Bundesliga, securing another European qualification.

In addition to turning a downtrodden side into valid European contenders in the domestic championship, Alonso guided Leverkusen to the Europa League semi-finals, only to be stopped by former Madrid coach Jose Mourinho.

A 1-0 aggregate scoreline fired Roma into the final, but Alonso can still be proud of his first season in first-team management.

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