LIVERPOOL boss Rafael Benitez has wasted no time in replacing Xabi Alonso by closing in on the signing of Roma’s Alberto Aquilani.
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.
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.
“This meeting has only served to put our positions on the table,” Purslow said. “We need to continue talking.”
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.
The Spaniard welcomed the talks yesterday, admitting: “It’s reassuring to know that Madrid and Liverpool are talking seriously now.
“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.”
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.
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.