Friday, July 31, 2009

Liverpool Want €35M 'Plus Five' From Real Madrid For Xabi Alonso - Report

Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso is today reported as having handed in an official transfer request to his club, as his proposed switch to Real Madrid edges closer to becoming a reality.

High-profile Spanish journalist Guillem Balague has told Sky Sports News today that the Spanish giants are once again talking to the Reds about the transfer, though there is a significant disparity between each club's valuation of the player.

"Real Madrid and Liverpool are talking about the future of the player," Balague said. "There's been an offer made by Real Madrid of €25 million which, funnily enough, is inferior to the offer made about three weeks ago, the last time they talked when there was a fax with an offer of €27 million.

"Now it's 25, and Liverpool are asking for €35 million, plus five (million). So there is still a big difference between what Real Madrid are offering and what Liverpool want.

"But the news is both clubs are talking for the first time in three weeks."

Balague also intimated that the process of the move was likely to be quick, with Liverpool in particular wanting the matter resolved as soon as possible. Now that Los Blancos have concluded the deal taking Gabriel Henize to Olympique de Marseille, they will begin to move with more alacrity regrading Alonso, the reporter feels.

Liverpool Confirm Xabi Alonso Transfer Request

Xabi Alonso's move from Liverpool to Real Madrid appears to be imminent after a source at the Merseyside club confirmed that the Spanish midfielder had submitted a transfer request.

The 28 year-old, who arrived for training on Thursday, expects to hold talks with Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez as Real are believed to be preparing a new, improved bid.

Alonso had previously only told Benitez verbally that he wanted to leave the club.

Now if Madrid produce an offer of at least £28 million, the chances are that Benitez will agree to sell the man he signed from Real Sociedad for £10 million in August 2004.

Alonso flew back from Spain on Thursday, having spent three days with his family in San Sebastian, determined to end a summer-long saga over his future.

Benitez has defiantly refused to let Alonso leave, and Real's only official bid of £24million was rejected. But a formal transfer request changes the situation.

Since that first bid, both parties have been engaged in a war of words over the deal, with Real president Florentino Perez maintaining that Liverpool's valuation was much too high.

Benitez had talks with Alonso during Liverpool's Far East tour last week, and tried to convince the player to stay, underlining the fans' delirious response to the player in Bangkok and Singapore as a reason to think again.

But on Liverpool's return to the UK, Benitez told Alonso that he wanted the uncertainty around the player's future to be sorted out before the weekend, one way or another.

Now the deadlock looks like being broken, just 24 hours after the two clubs agreed a £3.5 million fee for Anfield full-back Alvaro Arbeloa to move to Real.

By the time that the Alonso fee is in Liverpool's bank, and also £4 million for Andrea Dossena's move to Napoli, Benitez will have around £40 million to spend on the transfer market.

Benitez has already raised around £8 million from the sales of Arbeloa, Sebastian Leto, Jack Hobbs and Paul Anderson.

He has been linked with Wigan midfielder Lee Cattermole, Hull defender Michael Turner, Valencia's David Silva and Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani.

Benitez is aware that the new Premier League season is little more than a fortnight away, and he needs to move quickly to find a replacement for Alonso otherwise the club's preparation for the campaign will be disrupted.

Alvaro Arbeloa Praises Liverpool FC – As He Signs Up For Real Madrid

Alvaro Arbeloa thanked Liverpool for making him a "much better player" after completing his move back to Real Madrid last night.

The 26-year-old revealed he set his heart on a return to the Bernabeu as soon as he discovered the Spanish giants were interested in him.

Arbeloa, who made 99 appearances for the Reds after signing for £2.5m from Deportivo La Coruna in January 2007, put the finishing touches on his move after Madrid agreed a £3.5million deal with Reds boss Rafa Benitez.

"Liverpool are a club with an impressive history, with lots of success," he said after completing his medical in Madrid. "In England they are the team with the most titles, so I've already experienced that pressure and I hope that will help me now with this challenge, which is clearly the biggest in my career.

"I think I've become a better footballer and also matured. When you play at a club like Liverpool you have the chance to play with great players, I've also been called up by Spain and we've won the European Championships so in these years I've learned a huge amount.

"It's made me a much better player and I hope to be able to show it, which in the end is the important thing."

Arbeloa is Real's seventh summer signing since Florentino Perez returned to the presidency in June, following in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema, Raul Albiol, Alvaro Negredo and Esteban Granero.

But Arbeloa is no stranger to Madrid, as he spent five years working his way up through the youth ranks before moving to Deportivo in 2006, and then onto Liverpool six months later.

The defender failed to establish himself in the first team during his previous spell at the Bernabeu, making just a couple of senior appearances, so when the chance arose for a second bite at the cherry, Arbeloa admits he was determined to take it.

"Since the door was opened to the possibility of coming here I was hoping for it to happen with all my heart, and I'm very happy to be able to return.

"Not even in your best dreams can you imagine that you are going to be in the Real Madrid first team," he said.

"Moreover, when you leave the club with the feeling of not being able to be in the first team, you know that it's very difficult to return, so for me, when this opportunity presented itself, my first objective was to take it and fortunately I'm here.

"I'm delighted and eager to take this opportunity and get out onto the pitch to train, to play and to enjoy it.

"I think that any kid would take advantage of the chance to come to Real Madrid."

Liverpool In Rome To Close Alberto Aquilani Deal - Report

Liverpool are working diligently for Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani, and they have taken swift action amid reports that Xabi Alonso has handed in a transfer request.

According to Il Messaggero, a Liverpool emissary arrived in the capital on Wednesday night in order to engage the Italian international.

The report suggests the five-time European champions are ready to offer the player a deal as uncertainty over Alonso's future continues to grow.

The Reds will offer Aquilani a five-year deal, and they are ready to entice Roma into selling by making a €20million offer.

Coach Luciano Spalletti did admit Aquilani could be one of the players on his way out last week, and the club appear eager to cash in.

Reports in England this morning have further fuelled the Aquilani talk. The Times claims Alonso has handed in a transfer request in order to engineer a move to Real Madrid.

It appears the Spaniard's penchant for the new Galacticos has propelled the English side into making their move for the Italian.

Alberto Aquilani Wants To Stay At Roma - Report

Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani is unlikely to leave the club and join Liverpool as far as his agent Franco Zavaglia is concerned.

Il Messaggero claimed the Reds were in Rome trying to close a deal for the Italian midfielder. It is said an offer of €20 million, plus a five-year deal for the player was being discussed.

However, Franco Zavaglia made it clear that he is unaware of any deal for his client, suggesting there would not be any move. claim they spoke to the agent and he denied the Liverpool deal, insisting he has not heard from the Premier League side.

Furthermore, the agent made it clear that Aquilani wants to stay in Rome after signing an extension with the club earlier this summer.

Zavaglia also confirmed his client's recovery from ankle surgery is going according to plan.

Media reports have consistently linked the Italian to Liverpool as a replacement for Xabi Alonso, should he join Real Madrid.

Rafael Benitez: Liverpool Goalkeeper Pepe Reina Is Best In Premier League

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believes Pepe Reina is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League.

Reina has been the undisputed first-choice keeper at Anfield since arriving from Villarreal in 2005 and fast became a fans' favorite.

Benitez feels consistency is one of the Spaniard's key attributes, especially as he is not as frequently tested as other shot-stoppers.

"Pepe is a fantastic keeper," Benitez told LFC Magazine.

"Right now, I think he is the best keeper in the Premier League. He is very consistent.

"For a top side, it can sometimes be harder to have a keeper that can perform so consistently at the level Pepe does because he is not as exposed as some keepers.

"Sometimes he has just one or two saves to make in a game and is not always so busy. But to be as good as he has been tells us what a fantastic keeper he is."

Reina will be hopeful of adding to his clean sheet tally, which passed 100 last season, when Liverpool face Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on August 16.

Napoli To Close Deal For Liverpool's Andrea Dossena By Monday – Report

Napoli are hoping to close negotiations with Liverpool for Andrea Dossena by Monday, according to

The Italians have agreed a fee with the Premier League giants, and they have been locked in talks with Dossena over his personal terms. Following a progressive start towards an agreement, the talks have started to stumble.

On Wednesday, Napoli confirmed there was some distance between what they had offered Dossena and what he is demanding.

The report suggests the stopper wants around €2 million-per-season in wages, but the Azzurri are offering €1.3m.

Despite this hurdle, president Aurelio De Laurentiis is hoping to tie up a deal by early next week. The Italian bigwig wants a complete squad so he can present it during a sponsorship event in the port city on Monday.

It is said Napoli will pay the Reds around €4.5m for the Italian.

Liverpool Legend Kenny Dalglish Lauds Summer Recruit Glen Johnson

Glen Johnson could be the player who helps push Liverpool closer to the Premier League crown, according to club legend Kenny Dalglish, who was a relentless trophy magnet as both a player and manager.

Johnson's style, a roaming right-back who can act almost as an auxiliary playmaker occupying the flank, is in keeping with the Anfield tradition, claims Dalglish, who also believes that the former Portsmouth player’s Britishness will see him adapt to life on Merseyside with ease.

"Attacking full-backs have always been important to the way Liverpool sides have played," Dalglish informed local newspaper The Liverpool Echo. "Historically, even going back to the days of [Bill] Shankly, we have always been a club who have put great faith in players in those positions having a certain comfort on the ball.

"Even in teams where there were out-and-out wingers, you could normally rely on the full-backs getting forward to join in with the attack.

"I think Glen Johnson will prove to be an excellent acquisition over the course of his Anfield career. I also think that he can improve as a defender at Liverpool. He’s proven he can attack with the best of them, and he’s secured the position of first-choice full-back at international level under Fabio Capello, so he can defend.

"But working on things with [manager Rafael Benitez] and having a player of the experience of [Jamie] Carragher playing in the same back four will benefit him in the long run.

"Ultimately, the more threat you carry going forward, the better that will be for our prospects this season.

"He’s British, so there’s no cultural barrier to him settling down at Melwood, and he’ll know most of the boys having played with them for England or against them in the league and cups.

"It’s all positive," the 58-year-old concluded.