Alonso casts doubt on future at Anfield

It is either an elaborate wind-up on the Liverpool manager or – more likely – a reflection of the fact that he will struggle to maintain the same midfield for next season. Hours after Javier Mascherano's agent Walter Tamer was seen meeting Barcelona directors in the Catalan city, Xabi Alonso provided a deafeningly unconvincing reply to a question about his commitment to Liverpool.

"Would you be disappointed if you end up having to stay at Liverpool next season?" Alonso was asked after Spain's 1-0 win over Iraq in the Confederations Cup on Wednesday. "I can't answer that question," he replied.

The answer reinforces the sense that Alonso never recovered his commitment to Benitez's cause since the Liverpool manager proved ready to part company with him last summer. Benitez wants to get on with the job of finding the second striker he so badly needs – a cut-price option such as Real Madrid's £5m-rated Argentine Javier Saviola or else Uruguayan club Nacional's attacking midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, whom Benitez has viewed on DVD, are possible targets – but the end of the Confederations Cup might leave him with a midfield crisis on his hands.

Alonso may not have made his own mind up yet. Real's sporting director Jorge Valdano reiterated this week that he felt Liverpool would not release the player, which might be a negotiating ploy or a genuine acceptance that at £20m Alonso may be a buy too far once president Florentino Perez has spent heavily again on either Franck Ribéry or – more likely – David Villa.

Much of the attraction with Alonso is that he is Spanish and Perez is frequently accused of not signing enough Spaniards. But if Real do complete the signing of Villa, Perez could feel he has satisfied his quota of national signings and only be willing to take Alonso as part of a deal that would include other players. Benitez is keen on striker Alvaro Negredo but he is likely to be involved in any deal that takes Villa to the Bernabeu. The other Real players who interest Liverpool are Saviola and Arjen Robben.

Robben was being lined-up up as part of a £30m three-player package for Tottenham but the Dutchman does not want to move to a club that is not in the Champions League. Real are threatening to leave him without a shirt number next season.

There is a view in Argentina that Mascherano may also be ready to leave Anfield. But Barcelona, who have said they have £35m to spend in total, probably need to cash in on striker Samuel Eto'o before they can consider a bid for the midfielder.

David Moores, who sold his majority shareholding to current American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks two years ago, has resigned from Liverpool's board of directors. He admitted last year he felt "heartbroken and let down" by the owners.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones