Xabi Alonso's Liverpool career appeared to be coming towards an end as he arrived for training today.
The midfielder expects to hold talks with manager Rafael Benitez as Real Madrid are believed to be preparing a new, improved, bid for the 28 year-old.
A club source has now confirmed that Alonso has submitted a transfer request, with the Spanish player having previously only told Benitez verbally that he wanted to leave the club.
Now if Madrid produce an offer of at least £28m, the chances are that Benitez will agree to sell the man he signed from Real Sociedad for £10m in August 2004.
Alonso flew back from Spain today, 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 clearly 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 £3.5million fee for Anfield full-back Alvaro Arbeloa to move to Real.
By the time that the Alonso fee is in Liverpool's coffers, and also £4million for Andrea Dossena's move to Napoli, Benitez will have around £40m to spend on the transfer market.
Benitez has already raised around £8m 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.
Arbeloa's move to the Bernabeu has been conducted with far less rancour.
The player passed a medical yesterday and has now signed a five-year contract.
He said of his time at Anfield: "Liverpool are a club with an impressive history, with lots of success.
"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 have 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 have learned a huge amount.
"It has made me a much better player and I hope to be able to show it, which in the end is the important thing."
The transfer will see Arbeloa rejoin the club where he began his professional career after Real plucked him from Real Zaragoza's youth set-up.
However, the full-back was restricted to just two senior run-outs during his first spell at the Bernabeu and he is determined to improve on that figure this time around.
He added: "My objective is to give it everything in training and try to win myself a place in the team, which is the objective of any player.
"And of course I want to help my team-mates and the team to win titles, which in the end is what counts."