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Mikel makes three

Posted on: Thu 23 Jun 2011

Gary Haines reports

Charlton have continued their summer of rebuilding by signing Spanish midfielder Mikel Alonso, the club announced on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old, elder brother of former Liverpool and current Real Madrid and Spain engine-roomer Xabi, arrives from Tenerife.

Playmaker Alonso, who spent a season on loan at Bolton Wanderers in 2007/2008, further boosts Chris Powell's options in the middle of the park after the signings of Danny Hollands and Bradley Pritchard from AFC Bournemouth and Hayes & Yeading respectively.

And he joins on the same afternoon that Cedric Evina and Paul Hayes, who will link up with the Addicks on July 1st, were confirmed as new signings.

"It's another really positive signing and Mikel will be a real quality addition to our midfield ranks," said manager Powell.

"Midfield is a position in which we have lost a few players from last season and we really have to boost that area.

"Mikel has been to England before so he knows what to expect from English football. He speaks good English and is an all-rounder; sometimes he can play a holding role or sometimes he can push on and be as creative as he can. That bodes well and he comes into the reckoning with the other guys."

Alonso said: "This is a really interesting move for me but once the club showed an interest in me it wasn't a difficult decision.

"It's a beautiful stadium here and I'm really looking forward to starting work."

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Mikel Alonson  and Everton's Yakubu in Premier League action

A product of the same Real Sociedad youth set-up as his younger sibling, Alonso scored two goals in 28 outings for Tenerife last season.

He also played for them in La Liga the previous campaign but could not stop the Canary Island side slipping to successive relegations, most recently to the third tier of Spanish football.

Born in Tolosa, to the south of San Sebastian, he came through the ranks at Sociedad, playing for the club's B side before debuting in La Liga in April 2001, former Wales manager John Toshack pitching him into action.

One further appearance followed the following campaign, and he played alongside his brother in the first team in 2002/03, making his full debut for the club at Real Betis on February 16th, 2003.

His first goal arrived a week later in a 2-0 win against Osasuna, but with a regular midfield berth hard to come by, he went out on loan to Numancia in the second half of the 2003/04 campaign, scoring one goal in 10 appearances to help them earn promotion to the top flight.

Back in San Sebastian, Alonso started to establish himself in the middle of the park the following campaign and was a regular in the Sociedad side until he headed to Bolton for a season-long loan in 2007.

He debuted for the Trotters from the bench in a 3-1 loss against Newcastle United on August 11th and his first start came at Fratton Park against Portsmouth a week later.

In total Alonso, whose brother was well established across the North West at Liverpool by this time, made seven league appearances for Bolton and featured twice in the League Cup and three times in the UEFA Cup, including in a 2-2 draw at Bayern Munich.

Gary Megson's arrival at The Reebok Stadium, as well as an injury, saw him fall out of favour and when he returned to Spain he was also out of the picture at Sociedad.

After an unsuccessful trial at Greek side Olympiacos, he left Real Sociedad following more than 111 first-team appearances across eight seasons in the Estadio Anoeta.

He spent time on trial at Swansea City in the Roberto Martinez reign, but returned to Spain to join Tenerife and debuted for the then Segunda Division club in February 2009.

Promotion was sealed thanks to a third place finish and he netted his first goal for the club the following season in a 1-0 La Liga win against Bilbao-based Basque outfit Athletic Club.

Mikel Alonso in European action for Bolton

Tenerife were relegated at the end of the 2009/10 campaign and dropped into the third tier for the first time in 24 years last time round after a season that saw them appoint three different managers.

His last appearance came in the 1-0 defeat at Las Palmas on June 4th, and his final stats for the Canary Islanders is 69 appearance and three goals, two of them coming last term.

Manager Powell added: "Mikel had a tough season last year at Tenerife but came through that and scored some goals from midfield.

"Hopefully we can get him settled early, but his season didn't finish too long ago so we need to make sure he is physically ready for our 10-month season.

"I'm really pleased he has agreed to come and that will boost that midfield area where we have lost a number of players, some who were out of contract and some on loan.

"We are always looking to add quality to our squad and Mikel ticks all the boxes."

On day in which he recruited the former Arsenal youth team skipper Evina, and a Championship striker from last season in Hayes, Powell was also pleased to complete another exciting capture.

"He has played at the highest level in Spain and that's what attracted me," continued Powell.

"Players of his pedigree, you sometimes look at and think 'do they need a fresh challenge because maybe where they have been previously has not got best out of them?'

"Mikel has played at a good standard and he can look forward to playing over here.

"His experience at Bolton started well but a change of management didn't help. Now he has signed we can now look to get the best out of him and see what role suits him best."

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