views

Benitez lines up Aquilani to replace Real-bound Alonso

LIVERPOOL boss Rafael Benitez has wasted no time in replacing Xabi Alonso by closing in on the signing of Roma&rsquo;s Alberto Aquilani.<br /><br />Reports in Europe suggest Benitez has already had a &pound;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&rsquo;s &pound;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 />&ldquo;This meeting has only served to put our positions on the table,&rdquo; Purslow said. &ldquo;We need to continue talking.&rdquo;<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&rsquo;s Premier League opener at Tottenham next Sunday.<br /><br />The Spaniard welcomed the talks yesterday, admitting: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s reassuring to know that Madrid and Liverpool are talking seriously now.<br /><br />&ldquo;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&rsquo;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.&rdquo;<br /><br />Reports in Italy say central midfielder Aquilani, 26, has already agreed to a four-year deal with Liverpool worth &euro;4m (&pound;3.4m) a season &ndash; 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.