Xabi Alonso believes Steven Gerrard would walk into any team in the world — including the great tiki-taka Spanish sides of the last few years.
Alonso has played with some of the best midfielders ever as Spain has claimed FIFA World Cup and consecutive UEFA European Championship trophies.
But he thinks his teammate from 2004 to 2009 — who played his 600th game for Liverpool on Sunday – would fit right in alongside the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta had he been born in Spain.
“Absolutely, there’s no doubt,” he told Real Madrid TV in an interview on behalf of Liverpoolfc.com.
“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.”
Alonso played 210 games for Liverpool, finding the net on 19 occasions.
During his five years at Anfield he developed a close friendship with Gerrard based on mutual respect.
“We are great friends and we still keep in touch,” said the 30-year-old.
“He was a great influence to me. When I arrived at Liverpool I was 22 and he was the captain, he was the main man at the club. For me he was a reference, the way he behaved with his teammates and with the supporters as well. I learned a lot from him.
“As a captain he has embraced all the responsibilities of being a captain and he’s the perfect captain for Liverpool, not just because he’s a great player but because he represents the values of the club.”
Unlike Alonso, Gerrard has not enjoyed trophy success at international level during his 99 caps.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t be remembered as one of the all-time greats of world football, according to Alonso.
“He’ll absolutely be remembered as one of the greats,” said the midfielder. “For me he is already one of the greats.
“His name and Liverpool’s name will always be linked and he’s a great representative of the club and the city.
“There are so many things. He is so inspirational. In the key moments he has that different thing, that spark that is difficult to define.
“He has achieved great things and in very important moments he has been the man for Liverpool. We had great European nights and he was the main man. For me he’s a great player.
“Hopefully he will reach 700 games.”