Xabi Alonso seemed to be heading out of Anfield last night, after what appeared to be a a joint effort between the midfielder and Real Madrid to manufacture his much craved move to the Bernabeu.
Alonso is understood to have telephoned his manager Rafael Benitez to inform him he wants to leave Liverpool and join Real, a move which makes his position at Anfield look untenable, and the Spaniards seem to have followed that up by making a reduced £20m offer for the player, £3m less than their previous offer and a signal that they will go no higher for a player who clearly wants to leave.
Benitez is willing to persevere with players who do not want to be at the club but the wisdom of holding on to Alonso now looks dubious. The 27-year-old has never forgiven Benitez for being prepared to sell him to Juventus to finance a bid for Gareth Barry last summer, and Real's interest is fuelled by the pressure president Florentino Perez is under to add a Spaniard to his new bunch of galacticos.
Perez missed out on Alonso when he joined Liverpool from Real Sociedad and there has been no real "españolisation" of the team so far, as he promised. Real have only signed Valencia centre-back Raul Albiol. Perez won't buy Alonso at an inflated price – because the player won't sell many shirts – and another impediment to the deal is the long-standing antipathy between Real Madrid sporting director Jorge Valdano and Benitez. Benitez managed the Real B team during Valdano's period at the helm of the first team and the two did not get on.
The Spain midfielder, who married his girlfriend Nagore Aramburu in his home city of San Sebastian on Saturday, is understood to have made a number of calls to Benitez while away with Spain at the Confederation Cup in South Africa, though none in recent days according to Alonsos representatives. Benitez has become irritated by the situation, though the player's departure would demand an immediate reshaping of Liverpool's midfield. Internazionale's Argentine Esteban Cambiasso and Udinese's Gaetano D'Agostino are seen as prospective replacements.