Benitez will swoop for Silva if Valencia cash in

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The Independent Football

The Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez is ready to intensify his interest in Valencia's David Silva, his negotiating position enhanced by the Spanish club's diminishing prospects of selling their other prime asset, David Villa.

Valencia, a club in severe financial crisis, may be forced to reduce their initial £25m demand for Silva, which put Benitez off in May and the manager will be able to offer the entire amount up front if Real Madrid adhere to his own demands that their £30m-plus outlay on Xabi Alonso comes in one upfront payment, as did their £80m to Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Valencia's hard initial negotiating position arose because Villa seemed destined to leave the Mestalla and there was a desire to keep Silva. But Barcelona's part-exchange move for Internazionale's Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic means that Villa may well not be leaving Spain. Samuel Eto'o's agent yesterday confirmed that the Cameroonian would be the makeweight in a deal for Ibrahimovic. "He will start working with Inter next week" said Josep Maria Mesalles.

The 23-year-old Silva can play wide, as a withdrawn striker or as an attacking midfielder and is not a straight replacement for Alonso. Valencia have been on the brink of bankruptcy all summer and will accept nothing less than a straight cash deal for him.

Where Alonso is concerned, Benitez is also holding out for a Madrid player to be included in the deal, with striker Alvaro Negredo still a possibility. If Real agree to include Negredo then the defender Alvaro Arbeloa would be likely to join Alonso in moving to the Bernabeu. Silva is reluctant to switch to England but will make an exception for Liverpool where he would be joining Spain team-mates Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres.

Alonso seems more likely than Javier Mascherano to leave, as the midfield uncertainties that have plagued Benitez all summer continue to drag on. Barcelona had coveted Mascherano and had wanted to deploy him in front of Kolo Touré, but the £50m Liverpool would expect seems, as they had hoped, to have priced the European champions out of the market. The player's agent, Walter Tamer, has been sounding desperate over the last couple of days. Juventus's Christian Poulsen appears to be a cheaper option for Barcelona.

Real Madrid technical director, Miguel Pardeza, said yesterday that the club still held out hope they can persuade Liverpool to part with Alonso, though not at any price because the player would not sell many shirts.

Real's general director Jorge Valdano has ruled out new signings until the club starts offloading players. After confirming that Klaas van Huntelaar had turned down a move to Stuttgart because he had "other expectations", Valdano said: "Until some of the players leave it is going to be very difficult." Madrid had rather unrealistically hoped to bring in around €100m (£85.6m) with the sale of up to seven players, but stars such as Arjen Robben and Ruud van Nistelrooy have shown no interest in leaving.

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