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Bayern Munich's Xabi: Money isn't key to glory

By Ian Herbert

Manchester City are as invisible in the latest edition of Uefa's official Champions League magazine as they have been in Europe's elite competition this season. Not a sentence about their struggles.

But plenty on the Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso, whose emergence as pass master commands the cover and whose statistics tell quite a story.

He has completed 388 passes in the first four games of the group stage - more than any other player in the competition.

Alonso last night suggested, slightly wistfully, that time was the impediment to him playing in England again. He said: "I'm getting older! Who knows maybe, one day. I don't know if I will have enough time."

It was a dereliction of duty that no British club went in for the player during the summer, when his place at Real Madrid was clearly under pressure after Toni Kroos' arrival. City were focused on someone more physical for the back of midfield, £12m Fernando, though he has not set the continent alight.

Manuel Pellegrini must have looked at the Spaniard's £5m price tag and wondered why City didn't at least go and knock on his door.

"He is very important to a team that likes to have possession of the ball because he is very accurate in all of his passes," the Chilean said. But Alonso, who is 33 today, is also schooled in the aspects of Champions League football which made the Liverpool side he graced so successful and which Pellegrini has simply not grasped: a knowledge of how to play the big games and how to adapt when those games are going against you.

Asked how Rafael Benitez's low-budget Liverpool managed to win the Champions League, while Manchester City, with all their wealth are still barely knocking on the door, Alonso put financial riches into sharp perspective.

"There is not a determined formula, that when you are earning more you are winning more," he said. "You are trying to buy success, but there are big surprises in football. And, as well as that, you've got to do things properly and normally in football. If you do things properly, you will have success."

Asked if he was surprised that no Premier League clubs had made a move for Alonso, boss Pep Guardiola was deferential about the riches of the English environment.

"You are lucky. You have a lot of money," he said. "It is good. And the board have a lot of money to spend on players so it is good."

No, he was the lucky one, with his £5m Alonso, it was put back at the manager. And he didn't disagree. "Obviously we are so happy," smiled Guardiola.

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