Real Madrid have several star players who are recognized as living legends of the game. Karim Benzema and Luka Modric are the two most obvious all-time greats, with Benz set to join Modric as a Ballon d’Or winner. Toni Kroos, Casemiro, and Dani Carvajal are also recognized by astute football fans and Madridistas as the best players at their respective positions/roles of their generation. Thibaut Courtois could join them soon, too.
But there is one player who is highly accomplished at two distinct positions now who often gets overlooked in these discussions. He may be new to Madrid, but that he won the league and Champions League in his first season with the club and looked immediately at home as a leader speaks volumes about his quality.
David Alaba is a serial winner. He almost never loses league titles. In fact, he has never lost his league since 2012/13. On top of that, Alaba is a two-time treble winner and now a three-time Champions League winner.
He is not someone who was just along for the ride on these great Bayern Munich teams or on this great 2021/22 Real Madrid side. No, no, he was always one of the key players. That’s why Bayern’s defense has been in shambles without him even at center back. And he was very obviously vital to Real’s success this season. Without him, they would not have been able to keep Liverpool’s star-studded attack off the scoresheet in the Champions League Final.
David Alaba has a decade of excellence at multiple positions
Alaba is one of Bayern’s most successful homegrown players. He rose up the ranks and was immediately a star at left back, becoming the best player at the position after Real Madrid’s own Marcelo. And now at center back, he is among the world’s elite. When you look at his consistency, ball-playing ability, intelligence off the ball, and leadership, Alaba has a case for being the best center back in the world. Yes, over Virgil van Dijk, whom he thoroughly outshined in this year’s Champions League.
We are talking about a player with more than a decade of excellence at three different positions: midfield, left back, and center back. Alaba is world-class in multiple roles and definitively world-class at just about everything needed from a modern-day center back.
And at 29 years old, there is still more to be written in Alaba’s amazing career. Much more. He has already won an amount of titles that others would envy, and with about a handful of years left in his career, surpassing the five Champions League titles many of his peers currently have is indeed within the realm of possibilities.
It is sad that defenders do not get more credit, and it is especially sad that Alaba’s greatness was overshadowed by the lack of a spotlight on the Bundesliga and more attention paid to the goal-scorers like Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski.
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But in the grand scheme of things, if he keeps this up, Alaba will have a bigger legacy in football than his ex-Bayern teammates and even several of his current Real Madrid teammates. The mainstream is so hyperfocused on the Premier League, but I hope that as 2022 rolls on, more people start referring to Alaba as the legend of the game that he truly is already.