Madrid: Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti admits there is one present he would like for Christmas and that is for veteran midfielder, Xabi Alonso to put pen to paper on a new contract.
It is no coincidence that Real Madrid's excellent recent form coincided with Alonso's return to the side after a long lay-off with a groin problem. However, the 32-year-old is out of contract at the end of season and has yet to sign a new deal to keep him at the club for longer, reports Xinhua.
"We have played really well in our last two games and we have not just played well, but also defended well," said Ancelotti.
"In earlier matches, we received too many goals and now we have shown good balance and we have to be pleased with that," he said on Thursday.
The coach put the improvement directly down to Alonso's return. "I can say that Xabi Alonso is the key in all of this. He is a very important player for us and he has a lot of quality and a lot of experience. His return was very good for the team," said the Real Madrid coach, who was asked whether or not he was worried about Alonso's future.
"No, I think that everyone at the club knows he is important and the club is speaking to him about renewing his contract. I hope he is happy here and that he signs a new contract, and I would like it to be confirmed soon," said Ancelotti.
Real Madrid kick off their Copa del Rey (Kings Cup) campaign on Saturday night when they travel to play third tier side Olimpic de Xativa in the first leg of their last-32 tie. Ancelotti admitted that he would be not resting many of his key players for the game to give a chance to other less habitual first team squad members.
"We don't know a lot about this team or their ground, but I am going to try and play my strongest 11," said Ancelotti, who nevertheless qualified those words. "We have to take care with some players, with Cristiano Ronaldo suspended. We also have Xabi Alonso, who will be better off working here in Madrid after his injury, but all of the rest could play," he confirmed.
Ancelotti spoke of other issues, admitting he was worried by a knee problem currently being suffered by young central defender, Rafael Varene, which will keep the Frenchman out of action for at least another week, and insisting that despite interest from teams in the English Premier League to take striker Alvaro Morata on loan, the Spain Under-21 international would remain in Madrid.