Benitez insists Villa pay £10m for Carson

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The Independent Football

Rafael Benitez is playing hardball over the valuation of several of his players as he fights to bring in the funds to allow him to spend in the summer. The Liverpool manager is believed to be sticking to his guns over a £10m asking price for the goalkeeper Scott Carson, which will almost certainly rule out Aston Villa, whose manager, Martin O'Neill, would like to make Carson's season-long loan move permanent, but will not pay that price.

It was thought that Benitez had lowered his price to help ease through a swap-plus-fee deal for Gareth Barry, but Villa are believed to be insisting on £16m for the England international. With Peter Crouch already labelled with a £15m price tag, Liverpool have now put a £16m valuation on their midfielder Xabi Alonso.

Juventus have held talks over the Spain international with Benitez, but the Anfield manager is not in any haste to see the deal go through unless a large fee can be acquired. As well as Barry, Benitez wants the £8m-rated Udinese full-back Andrea Dossena.

The Spaniard defended his stance on the Carson fee, which would surely be less if Villa agreed to sell Barry. "It is a matter between the clubs," he said. "We agreed the fee with Aston Villa last year. It has been there for one season, so to talk about it now is not correct."

Liverpool have confirmed a pre-season friendly with La Liga runners-up Villarreal, and they are also expected to soon confirm another warm-up game against Rangers at Ibrox.

So far the only date confirmed is the 30 July visit to Villarreal, a side Liverpool could end up facing in the Champions League next season. The match is part of the deal that took the Spain goalkeeper Jose Reina to Anfield in the summer of 2005. Liverpool are also almost certain to be facing a trip to Ibrox to face the Uefa Cup finalists. That date could be 26 July, but there has been no official confirmation. Liverpool will travel to Switzerland in early July for their usual pre-season training camp, where a couple of games against local opposition will be organised.

Liverpool also hope to have a friendly on the weekend prior to the start of the new Premier League season. There are no plans for a pre-season tour to the United States or the Far East, as Liverpool have staged in previous years.

Liverpool enter the Champions League at the third qualifying round stage next season, and the draw will be made on 3 August.

The Premier League starts on 9 August, with the third qualifying round first leg on 12 or 13 August with the second leg on 26 or 27 August, with a prospective group stage starting on 16 or 17 September.

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