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Alonso: Gerrard Could Still Play for Any Side in the World

Amongst those who have sought to praise Steven Gerrard following his 600th game for Liverpool, Xabi Alonso stands out for his insistence that not only is Liverpool's captain an all-time great but that he could still walk into any side in the world.

Jasper Juinen

With Steven Gerrard registering his 600th game for Liverpool on Sunday, it's been hard to entirely avoid the procession of former teammates and managers seeking to heap praise on the Liverpool captain. It's more than deserved for a player who, when he retires, will go down as one of the greatest Liverpool players of all time and perhaps even the greatest.

Despite the good intentions, at times all the praise can begin to feel a bit eulogistic, a celebration of the past that leaves little room for a meaningful future as Gerrard's career creeps ever closer to its end with Liverpool as far from being true title contenders as at any point in the Premier League era.

There's also reason to wonder if, in the present, Gerrard's mentality makes him a less than ideal fit for Brendan Rodgers' patient approach. His desire to always play the killer pass or beat his man when a simpler, safer option that allows the side to keep possession exists is inarguably exciting, yet at times in can seem at odds with a methodical possession game.

On talent alone, though, there's little room to doubt that even at 32 years of age Gerrard would be a valuable member of almost any squad in the world. And former teammate Xabi Alonso would take it one step further, as when he was asked if Gerrard would have a place in the possession obsessed midfields of Real Madrid or the Spanish national team he insisted Gerrard's tendency to force the issue on occasion wouldn't be a problem—that even today he'd walk straight into either side.

"Absolutely, there's no doubt," he said. "He could play in any national team in the world because he has so many great qualities. He is flexible. He can play at the English pace or he can associate with the ball very well. He is a very intelligent player, so he could play anywhere—not just any national team but any club in the world. But he has been a one-club man and that's something I really admire."

That loyalty to Liverpool means Gerrard is unlikely to ever lift the Premier League trophy, and England winning silverware on the international stage before he retires is even harder to imagine, but Alonso doesn't see that getting in the way of how the midfielder will be remembered.

"He'll absolutely be remembered as one of the greats," said Alonso. "For me he is already. His name and Liverpool's name will always be linked and he's a great representative of the club and the city. In the key moments he has that different thing, that spark that is difficult to define. We had great European nights and he was the main man. For me he's a great player.

"Hopefully he will reach 700 games."

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