Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Benitez avoids Alonso issue

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez today refused to be drawn on the future of midfielder Xabi Alonso but did rule out any potential move for Spain international David Villa.

Alonso has been the subject of sustained interest from Real Madrid and the 27-year-old was quoted in the Spanish press as indicating he would be keen on a return to his homeland.

The free-spending Spanish giants are reportedly eager for a swift conclusion to a mooted £30million deal but Benitez, who confirmed Alonso is part the Reds squad embarking on a two-match tour of Thailand and Singapore, underlined he will not be leaving the club any time soon.

"Xabi Alonso is here with us so he will be available," he said.

"One thing that you need to understand is the Spanish press. The future of Xabi Alonso is to enjoy here with the people of Thailand and the weather and the game. The next week he will be here."

Benitez also revealed he has no plans to discuss the situation with the player, who signed a five-year deal in June 2007 and proved one of Liverpool's key performers last term, ahead of Wednesday night's game against Thailand in Bangkok.

"We'll talk about tactics and the game and try to enjoy our football," he added.

One player who will not be arriving at Anfield, however, is David Villa.

The prolific Valencia striker has been periodically linked with the Merseyside club and the prospect of recreating his partnership with countryman Fernando Torres in the Premier League was one to savour.

But Benitez emphatically ruled out any approach for the 27-year-old.

"David Villa, he is not our target," he stressed.

Defender Glen Johnson is the only significant piece of business to have been completed so far this summer after joining from Portsmouth but Benitez hinted there could be further big-name arrivals ahead of the August 31 transfer deadline.

"We have already signed Johnson, an international for England. He is a good signing and Andriy Voronin is coming back, he was one of the best players in the German league, so we have two good additions. You never know in football, we still have some time and we need to keep working on other names," he said.

"We have fantastic players and hopefully we can keep the level of last year and see with one or two additions we could improve a little bit. At the moment we are very pleased."

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