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Marcos Alonso : El Caballo Salvaje

Hailing from one of the greatest footballing families in Spain, Marcos Alonso Mendoza entered the world of football with big boots to fil...

Hailing from one of the greatest footballing families in Spain, Marcos Alonso Mendoza entered the world of football with big boots to fill in terms of expectations. His grandfather, Marcos Alonso Imaz played alongside the Real Madrid legends like Di Stefano, Gento, Rial and Puskas winning 5 Liga titles amongst other trophies. His father, Marcos Alonso Pena had a glorious career playing for Atletico Madrid and Barcelona and was the most expensive transfer in his time playing alongside greats like Maradona, Carrasco, Linekar and Zubizarreta.

Marcos Alonso started his footballing career in the youth setup of Real Madrid before playing for Bolton Wanderers and Fiorentina. In 2016 we finally signed him up for a fee of about £24 million. He became the fourth signing of the very passionate Italian manager Antonio Conte. Marcos Alonso came into a side which needed a lot of rebuilding and had high expectations.

2015-16 season was a tumultuous one for Chelsea. The ‘Happy One” Jose Mourinho could only see us finish 10th in the Premier League Table in that season. Antonio Conte had recently stepped down from managing the Italian National Team after seeing them tap out of the Euro 2016 against a very formidable side of Germany in the quarter-finals. The new season under Antonio Conte started out somewhat rocky but it was the game on 24th of September 2016 that changed history. With the introduction of Marcos Alonso at the 55th minute, Antonio Conte changed the formation to the infamous back 3 which won us the league as we went on to register a record of second-highest points tally in the Premier League (93) and a record of highest victories in a single season (30).

Marcos Alonso primarily plays as a wing-back on the left side of the field. He has been deployed as a left-back on several occasions in his career. With a very strong left foot that gives accuracy in shooting and crossing coupled with speed and aggression, Marcos finally looked like the player who could fill the position left vacant for years by Ashley Cole’s departure. Marcos is a very attack-minded defender. He often finds himself around or in the opposition box to make the best of half opportunities. Scoring in crucial moments of the game, Marcos Alonso has racked up 18 goals in just 3 seasons wearing the blue shirt. Being a potent part of the attacks, Marcos Alonso’s strong and accurate left foot also comes to use in free kicks. Defensive attributes of Marcos are considered slightly on the weaker side. He compensates for his lack of defensive acumen with his speed and strength. Marcos is usually favourite to win a 50-50 ball in the air as he is very good at winning headers. He never shies away from making a challenge even if it ends up with him seeing a card. One of the most striking aspects of his game is his switch from attack to defence. He is constantly covering the length of the pitch on the left flank, finding himself in important positions when we are attacking as well as facing an attack. Being a wing-back instead of an orthodox left-back brings that X-factor to the team. His contribution in attacks comes handy and can be very easily overlooked.

The modern game requires fullbacks to be constantly attacking. Be it Kyle Walker or Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordi Alba or Marcelo, the likes of all top modern fullbacks have an extra element of being extremely dangerous in the attacks. To utilise the flanks, crosses or cut-ins have become a crucial part of the offensive tactics of almost every team in the world now. Alonso fits right into this creamy layer of attacking fullbacks or wingbacks. The versatility of Alonso lets him play in different styles under different managers with different philosophies and team formations. Under Conte who liked to play three at the back and used Alonso as the attacking wingback who would possess the ability to find space on the flank and run the length of the pitch with the ball. Sarri, on the other hand, used Alonso more cautiously. Even though he gave Alonso more freedom than Azpilicueta, he always kept him behind the final attacking line telling him to find positions to where he could create crosses, through-balls or simply be a part of the build-up. Alonso Adjusted perfectly to both the philosophies.

This season Alonso has played close to a total of 1600 minutes scoring 4 goals and racking up 3 assists to his name. After having lost his place in the starting eleven under Frank Lampard at the beginning of the season, Marcos came back to the side strongly to retain his place for a few games. He has been constantly in and out of the playing team but whenever he gets a chance to play, he shines, restoring his manager’s faith in him. In both the games against Tottenham, he gave an outstanding performance and very recently his 2 goals against Bournemouth saved our blushes as we managed to salvage a point from that game. Frank likes to use the width of the field to open up spaces and Marcos does that brilliantly. He can shoot from distance and get into the box to put the ball inside the net, two things Frank Lampard himself liked to do a lot as a player. Frank has gone on to praise the determination and hard work Marcos has put in the training ground despite not getting enough playing chances which only outlines his character as a great team player to have with us.

Marcos hasn’t fully been able to stand up to his expectations as the next greatest player to take over the defensive (as well as offensive) duties on the left side of the pitch. His defensive lapses have been regularly highlighted by pundits over time. But he has always come back to answer his critics stronger than ever. There is a challenge from Emerson as well as Azpilicueta for the starting spot in the left full-back position. At the age of 29 and the gossip columns constantly weighing up his chances to leave Chelsea at the end of this season, it becomes difficult to imagine him wearing the Chelsea jersey next season as he looks for more game time. His importance in the squad can still not be negated and has yet to play a paramount role as we head towards the end of the season.

Written by - @Supratik_Das
Edit by - @KristenPulisic

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