Former Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso has revealed that Pep Guardiola convinced him to join Bayern Munich last summer.
The 33-year-old signed for the German giants at the start of the season, despite lifting the Champions League and Copa del Rey with Los Blancos just months earlier, but he admits the opportunity of working under the former Barcelona boss was too good to resist.
“After beating our city rivals Atletico in the Champions League final last year, it seemed like the time had come to do something different again,” the Spanish World Cup winner began in an interview with FIFA Weekly.
“We had managed to win La Decima, Madrid’s long-awaited tenth victory in Europe’s greatest club competition, a contest that has captivated the fans since the European Cup days.
“I thought the time was right to try something new with one of the world’s best teams and in one of the best three leagues in Europe.
“And I was grateful to Real for letting me go even though I had a contract that was due to run until 2016.
“There were many good reasons to move to Bayern, and Pep Guardiola was definitely one of them.
“I immediately realised how Guardiola’s unique intensity has enabled him to achieve so much in his relatively short career so far.
“To be able to learn even more about football under his guidance is incredibly motivating and offers a great challenge.
“He’s a rigorous thinker and worker, very analytical, a great tactician and a methodical innovator. Pep understands everything about the game.
“He doesn’t force his way of thinking on us players; instead he convinces us about his ideas.
“If you can manage that as a coach, you know your players will push themselves even further and fight even harder for the team’s shared goals.
“Previously the only goal really worth pursuing for Spanish players outside the Primera Division was the Premier League.
“Now if they move to foreign clubs, they either go to England or, as has been proven many times in recent years, to Germany.
“Raul [Gonzalez] definitely opened the door in that respect when he moved from Real Madrid to Schalke in 2010.”