Benitez faces fight for Alonso

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez still faces a fight to keep hold of midfielder Xabi Alonso, with Real Madrid apparently reluctant to take no for an answer.

The Reds boss has insisted he does not want to sell the Spain international - but with reports of a potential £30m offer looming, he may have to reconsider.

Benitez has admitted he has the finance available for one more transfer until he can free up some more money by selling on players.

Alonso would not be on the manager's list of potential departures, because his partnership with Javier Mascherano - a transfer target for Barcelona - is integral to the way the team plays.

But 27-year-old Alonso is one of Liverpool's most saleable assets and Benitez must weigh up what difference the cash from any deal with Madrid would make to his squad - who ran Barclays Premier League champions Manchester United very close last season.

"We have a plan. We can sign one more player if necessary, but that's without any players leaving," said the Liverpool boss.

Benitez hopes to generate funds with the sales of Sebastien Leto and Andriy Voronin - both loaned out last season - left-back Andrea Dossena, who could return to Italy after just one season at Anfield, and possibly Alvaro Arbeloa.

Arbeloa's position has come under threat from the £17m arrival of England right-back Glen Johnson from Portsmouth, that deal expected to be formally completed in the next couple of days.

Benitez would be happy for the Spain defender to stay. But with Real's general manager Jorge Valdano expressing an interest, the quietly consistent defender may be offloaded.

"Alvaro Arbeloa has had a very good season but he has one year left on his contract," Benitez told the Liverpool Echo.

"If he signs that will be good because we will have more competition, but if we get a good offer we will have to consider it."

Valdano seems confident of being able to sign Arbeloa, telling Spanish newspaper AS: "The lad only has a year left on his contract with Liverpool, and this gives us more possibilities.

"He can play in two or three positions, and this versatility is good. He is another option to evaluate."

Mascherano has seemingly tried to play down speculation of his unhappiness at not having parity with some of the club's top earners - by speaking of his admiration for Benitez.

"(He is) excellent. He's a perfectionist, working down to the smallest detail that you can imagine," said the Argentina captain, whom Benitez has valued at £50million in an attempt to ward off European champions Barcelona.

"Fortunately he has renewed his contract, meaning his ties to the club continue - and this will give more calm to everybody.

"I feel comfortable at Liverpool, but it's always good to know that teams like Barca and Madrid are interested in you."

It seems Liverpool's new managing director Christian Purslow's first major job will be to help finalise the refinancing of the £350m loan taken out to buy the club by American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Purslow, appointed only on Monday, has a background in finance and private equity - and reports yesterday suggested negotiations with the RBS, one of two banks involved, are at an advanced stage.

The American duo have until July 24 to agree a new deal - although it is expected they will be asked to provide additional security under new, more stringent, terms.

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