LIVERPOOL boss Rafael Benitez has wasted no time in replacing Xabi Alonso by closing in on the signing of Roma’s Alberto Aquilani.<br /><br />Reports in Europe suggest Benitez has already had a £15.2m bid for the midfielder accepted by the Italian club, while his representatives were thrashing out a deal with big-spending Real over the future of Alonso.<br /><br />The Spanish giants have so far been unable to match Liverpool’s £30m asking price for Alonso, although Reds managing director Christian Purslow stopped over in Barcelona last night to continue talks with Real executive director Jose Angel Sanchez.<br /><br />“This meeting has only served to put our positions on the table,” Purslow said. “We need to continue talking.”<br /><br />Alonso, 27, has made it clear he wants to leave Anfield after five seasons, and having handed in a formal transfer request, it seems unlikely he will be at the club for Liverpool’s Premier League opener at Tottenham next Sunday.<br /><br />The Spaniard welcomed the talks yesterday, admitting: “It’s reassuring to know that Madrid and Liverpool are talking seriously now.<br /><br />“I decided a long time ago to stay on the margin of everything that was happening. My stance has been clear, as you all know. I’m a professional and I must wait for an agreement to be reached, but I hope it is resolved soon, for better or for worse.”<br /><br />Reports in Italy say central midfielder Aquilani, 26, has already agreed to a four-year deal with Liverpool worth €4m (£3.4m) a season – but only once the Alonso deal is rubber-stamped.<br /><br />Aquilani, 26, is a former target of Arsenal and has won 11 international caps for the Azzurri. He is, however, still recovering from recent ankle surgery.