Madrid want to tie up Alonso deal

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid are believed to want any move for Liverpool's Xabi Alonso sorted out in the next fortnight.

The Spanish giants, who have yet to make an official bid for the midfielder, have set a time limit on their interest, according to sources close to the Bernabeu club.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, having tied one midfielder, Yossi Benayoun, to a new two-year contract extension, will now be expected to decide Alonso's future before the player returns for pre-season training on July 19.

That is the day before Liverpool fly to the Far East for games against Thailand and Singapore.

Alonso has been given an extra fortnight's holiday along with his fellow Spain team-mates who have been playing in the Confederations Cup - Fernando Torres, Jose Reina, Alvaro Arbeloa and Albert Riera.

Real Madrid insiders believe that the club's new coach Manuel Pellegrini will want to move on to other holding midfield targets if a deal for Alonso cannot be tied up within two weeks.

But as far as Benitez is concerned, any doubts about Benayoun's future have been dispelled following speculation that he would also be interested in a move away from Anfield.

The Merseysiders have rewarded the Israel skipper, following his best season in English football, with a new two-year extension to his current deal, which had two seasons to run.

The 29 year-old told www.liverpoolfc.tv: "I am very happy that we have reached an agreement. Of course, to be at a club like this is a dream come true and I want to keep playing here.

"Hopefully now I can concentrate on the hard work that needs to be done and try to play better and better and win some silverware."

Benayoun, who moved to Anfield from West Ham in July 2007, scored nine goals in 42 appearances during 2008-09.

The high spot for Benayoun came in February, at the Bernabeu, when he scored a late winner against Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16.

He follows Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Daniel Agger and Dirk Kuyt in committing his long-term future to the club.

Benitez said: "You know that our idea was to extend the contracts of some players and Yossi was one of these players.

"He has been really good for us over the last year, scoring crucial goals and getting assists, so we wanted to keep him and I'm really pleased with the extension."

The majority of Liverpool's stars returned for pre-season training yesterday as the club also announced new contracts for two of their most promising home-grown youngsters.

Midfielder Jay Spearing and full-back Stephen Darby, both 20, are expected to put pen to paper on the new deals later this week.

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