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BLOG: The Bizarre Rise and Rise of Marcos Alonso

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He played for us, and it wasn't so long ago either

Bolton Wanderers v Blackpool - npower Championship Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

I was sat comfortably on my sofa yesterday, getting ready to watch the Premier League game between Jose Mourinho and Chelsea. Sorry, between Manchester United and Chelsea.

A short while before the game started, the pundit revealed that Chelsea left back Marcos Alonso, formerly of this parish, of course, had had to withdraw from the game after becoming ill during the warm up (I know, I know).

It got me thinking. It is unusual in itself to find one former Bolton Wanderers player in such a high profile game, but to find two is just odd. Fair play to Gary Cahill and to Alonso in that regard.

I also got to thinking about Alonso's career, and the path that he has taken to get to be an integral part of a team who is on the brink of securing the league title.

When he signed for us back in July 2010 as a fresh faced 20 year old, we didn't really know a great deal other than his impressive heritage, being born of Real Madrid royalty.

I remember being at one of his very early games, an away Cup game to Burnley where he was roundly 'tatered by their attack, and I was greeted by a player who was incredibly slow and who seemed to lack the physicality to adapt to our game. Granted, this was only one of his first few games for the club,

As things went on he struggled to get into the side, and it was only after we suffered relegation to the Championship that he managed to become first choice - and that was only when Stephen Warnock left us to go back to his parent club after a loan spell.

Alonso was, in his 26 games that season, a defender in name only. Obviously very comfortable on the ball, defending was never really a consideration for the Spanish youngster. His qualities always lay in the attacking portion of his game. Dangerous from set pieces, he scored four goals in those 26 appearances, often at crucial times.

Our failure to gain promotion, along with his famous family, helped him to a move over to Italy where he signed for Fiorentina. His departure wasn't exactly mourned at the Reebok Stadium.

Again, he seemed to struggle to adapt to a new league and it took until his second season for him to gain any sort of traction in the side - making 22 appearances in Serie A. He would make another 31 in the 2015-16 season.

He was loaned to Sunderland, which seemed to indicate his level as a mid-to-lower league sort of player. 16 appearances later he left and returned to Italy with his reputation enhanced somewhat but again, without being particularly spectacular.

You could have forgiven many a Bolton fan (and perhaps Sunderland) shaking their head in surprise when word came out in August 2016 that he was being linked with a move to Chelsea for no less than £24m. It seemed an unbelievable amount for a player who had a so-so career to date.

In fairness to him, he has thrived in the team, scoring five times in 26 appearances as they lead the league. I think that Antonio Conte has hit upon the correct formula to utilise Alonso's best abilities - don't ask him to defend.

As a marauding left wing-back, the lad has made a name for himself and as shown yesterday is a crucial part of a team on the cusp of success, but to me and to plenty others I suspect that this bizarre and unexpected rise to prominence is more of a surprise than an expectation.

Fair play to him.