Rafael Benitez will seek talks with Xabi Alonso this week though the 27-year-old has given the strongest suggestion yet that he sees his future at the Bernabeu, rather than Anfield.
His latest disclosures, in Spain's Don Balon magazine, made reference to Benitez's willingness to sell him to Juventus last summer, a move which would have financed Gareth Barry's arrival and which rankled deeply with Alonso. "Last year I was close to joining Juventus," Alonso said. "It's always good that several clubs want you, but I can't do too much about it. I know that I have to do my work well and, in the future, I'll decide what I have to decide."
Asked if his would be an "impossible marriage" with Real Madrid, who covet him, he insisted: "No, it does not have to be." Alonso was also cool in his descriptions of his relationship with Benitez. "My relationship with Benitez is professional," he said. "I've already been in England five years and the truth is that I have adapted well. I'm happy there, though I do miss certain things from Spain. I cannot rule out a move or even staying in the Premier League." Real Madrid remain interested in a £20m move for Alonso.
Javier Mascherano is equally in demand with Barcelona seemingly not put off by the £50m price tag Benitez put on him. Despite giving defensive midfielder Yaya Touré a new contract Barcelona president Joan Laporta has reiterated his interest in the Argentina captain. "Mascherano is a close friend of Leo Messi. We will see what happens. He's a player I like very much," he told a Spanish radio station.