Alonso transfer rumours persist

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The Independent Football

Doubts over Liverpool's financial position may be diminishing but the same cannot be said of the speculation surrounding Xabi Alonso.

Spain's semi-final defeat to the USA, ending their hopes of winning the Confederations Cup in South Africa, appears likely to intensify the battle for the midfielder.

Reports in the Spanish press claim Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini has travelled home to Chile for a short holiday with assurances from the club that they will sign the 27-year-old.

AS suggest Pellegrini has been promised a midfield of Lassana Diarra, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alonso by Real president Florentino Perez.

The first two are already on board while Manchester United forward Ronaldo is on the verge of a record-breaking £80million move so that only leaves one more player for the full set.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, however, is keen to hang on to Alonso and his other first-choice central midfielder Javier Mascherano, who is wanted by Barcelona.

He will, though, try to raise more funds for transfers by selling Argentina winger Sebastian Leto to Panathinaikos, Andriy Voronin - who spent last season on loan at Hertha Berlin - and possibly Andrea Dossena.

Italy left-back Dossena has been linked with a move to Juventus but his agent has admitted it may not be as straightforward as first thought.

"For the time being, I have not met (Juventus sporting director) Alessio Secco and I don't have an appointment set up with him in the near future," Dossena's agent Roberto La Florio told Corriere dello Sport.

"At this time I don't know if Dossena will join Juventus. We can only wait, we are not in a hurry.

"In any case the lad (Dossena) is also happy at Liverpool."

There will be a more positive feeling around Anfield after the Royal Bank of Scotland stressed the club are "financially healthy and able to service comfortably its debt".

American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are in negotiations to refinance the £350million loan they took out to buy the Reds two years ago, with less than a month to go until the deadline for an agreement.

A deal is believed to be close but RBS have taken the unprecedented step of writing to fans to explain the situation.

According to the Liverpool Daily Post the bank has stressed they have a "long-term relationship with the club, and we look forward to this continuing for many years to come".

"In our view and that of the executive management of the club, it is financially healthy and able to service comfortably its debt obligations from cash flow generated by its playing and commercial activities," it continued.

"It is in our commercial interest to support the club . . . so that it can continue to perform successfully on and off the pitch."

Hicks and Gillett currently pay around £35million a year in interest on their loan and recently auditors KPMG went public with their concern over the level of debt being incurred by Kop Football Holdings, Liverpool's parent company, after it posted losses of £42.6million in the year ending July 2008.

The football club business itself made a profit of £10.2million and RBS have pointed out there is a clear dividing line between what the club owes them and Hicks and Gillett's debt.

"RBS is the main banker to the club including all of its operating accounts, cash management, online banking, automated payments and credit card processing to facilitate ticket sales and retail merchandising," stated the email, according to the Daily Post.

"We also lent money to the club's parent, Kop Football Limited, so that it could repay debt which was on the balance sheet of the club at the time of its acquisition by George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

"This is the only portion of Kop Football's bank debt for which the club is legally responsible.

"We took great care when making our original loan in early 2007 and when refinancing it last January to distinguish between obligations of the club, primarily those outlined above, and obligations of its parent company, the latter being secured by personal guarantees and collateral from the owners and a pledge of the shares they own in the club."

Gillett has already struck a deal to sell ice hockey team the Montreal Canadiens for around £330million, some of which is likely to be used as a personal guarantee in the refinancing negotiations with RBS and Wachovia, the other bank involved.

Hicks is also trying to offload about half of his 95% stake in the Texas Rangers baseball team, which could raise around £125million.