Benitez admits Reds overpaid for Johnson

Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, admitted yesterday he had paid over the odds in the £17m deal for full-back Glen Johnson but insisted new Champions League rules, which state sides must have eight home-grown players in their squads for all games, had forced his hand.

There is a view at Anfield that Benitez was also keen to sign Johnson from Portsmouth in order to register an early statement in the transfer market and avoid last summer's frustrating pursuit of Gareth Barry. Hence the decision also to make Johnson one of the best paid players behind Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, on a salary estimated to be around £80,000 a week.

But events yesterday suggested Benitez is also facing a grave risk of losing at least one of his key midfielders. As the Real Madrid sporting director, Jorge Valdano, indicated that the club had not ruled out a bid for Xabi Alonso, fellow midfielder Javier Mascherano contributed to a sense that he may leave, voicing his appreciation of the fact that Barcelona and Real are interested in him and not asserting his determination to resist their appeal.

"I am very proud and thankful for the interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid. It's good for me to have these two teams interested in me," the Argentine told the Spanish publication Don Balon. "Both teams are very important but at this moment I think that Barcelona is a little bit better and that's why they've won all that they have."

On Johnson, Benitez said: "Sometimes you have to spend a little bit more. You can't compete in the top four of the Premier League unless you spend some money. We were looking for a player of quality and also somebody who is British because of the new Champions League rules. Glen Johnson fits both categories."

Benitez indicated Liverpool could sign at least one player without any leaving – which Alvaro Arbeloa is likely to do, as well as Andrei Voronin, Andrea Dossena and Sebastian Leto – the latter probably to Panathinaikos. "We have a plan," Benitez said. "We can sign one more player if necessary, but that's without any players leaving."

Benitez is understood to have been in touch with Mascherano, though not Alonso, who has told journalists with Spain's Confederations Cup squad in South Africa that his Anfield future is in doubt.

Valdano said of Alonso: "We have possibilities there but I don't want to say anything that will make the negotiation more difficult. We will wait a reasonable amount of time."

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
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral