Alonso set to secure Liverpool future following Gerrard injury
Thursday 07 August 2008
Steven Gerrard's thigh injury will almost certainly scupper any thoughts Liverpool had of selling Xabi Alonso to raise money to sign Gareth Barry. Gerrard returned from Oslo having picked up the injury in the 4-1 win over Valerenga on Tuesday and had a scan and further medical tests yesterday.
Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, believes it is "touch and go" whether Gerrard will be fit for the first leg of the Champions League third qualifying round tie at Standard Liege next Wednesday, but he is certainly out of the friendly against Lazio tomorrow.
If Gerrard is sidelined, Alonso will have to play, considering that fellow midfielders Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva are away at the Olympics. Once the Spaniard becomes cup-tied in the Champions League his value will drop significantly.
Alonso, rated at over £16m by Benitez, is likely to only consider a move to another Champions League side. With the deal to bring Barry to Liverpool seemingly no nearer completion, despite the green light from Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill at the weekend, Benitez may soon have to look at other means of raising the cash.
It was thought that the club's American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett would provide a short-term loan to allow Benitez to sign Barry then sell players.
It had been expecting the deal would be completed by now, bearing in mind that it was supposed to have been almost tied up last week before O'Neill's self-imposed deadline, which was withdrawn at the weekend. However, any chance of Barry being unveiled at the Lazio game seems long gone.
Benitez has clearly been impressed by Alonso's pre-season form – he has scored two goals in two games – while Yossi Benayoun's desire to stay at Anfield is also obvious. "Xabi scored a good goal after scoring a penalty against Rangers on Saturday so this is very positive," Benitez said after the win over Valerenga. "He is showing that he is a good professional but then we already knew this and I am very pleased with his commitment on the pitch."
If the money is not forthcoming from Liverpool's American owners to push the Barry deal through, Benitez is expected to look elsewhere for finance rather than sell Alonso or Benayoun.
Buying Barry would require him to find half of the £18m fee now, the rest payable in a year. So the likes of Jermaine Pennant and Andriy Voronin are likely to be sold to raise around £9m, but that would mean Barry's move is unlikely to be completed until the end of the transfer window.
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