Jerzy Dudek claims a move to Real Madrid would represent a ‘dream come true’ for Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso.
Madrid's pursuit of Alonso is set to come to a head this week with Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez keen for the Spain international's future to be cleared up before his squad re-assembles on Thursday after a three-day break.
It is believed Benitez has threatened to pull the plug on negotiations if Madrid do not meet his £30million valuation of the player before the weekend and Dudek, now the back-up goalkeeper to Iker Casillas at the Bernabeu, admits the Anfield boss holds all the cards in the transfer saga.
“I spoke to him (Alonso) just before the holidays,” former Liverpool favourite Dudek revealed.
“He is a very nice lad and he knows what is the best for him, but he cannot do anything without Benitez. He is a good player without question, one of the best midfielders in the world.
“He is Spanish and all the Spanish guys want to play for Real Madrid. This is a dream come true for them and Xabi knows that he's not the only one.”
Alonso, who has not handed in a formal transfer request at Anfield, travelled with his Liverpool team-mates on the club's tour of the Far East last week, but speculation over his future intensified yesterday when he was photographed at Madrid airport.
As it transpired, Alonso had arrived in Spain from Singapore in the morning before heading to Madrid for an internal flight to spend time with his wife and family at his home in San Sebastian.
While Alonso's absence from Liverpool was viewed as a sign of his impending departure by some, it later emerged that all of Liverpool's players had been given time off after returning from the Far East.
The squad is due back at Melwood on Thursday, when they will begin preparations for Sunday's trip to play Espanyol at the Barcelona club's new stadium.
One player unlikely to make that trip is full-back Alvaro Arbeloa, who is in the last season of his Liverpool contract and on the brink of a £4million transfer to Madrid.
Arbeloa said: “It is true that the deal is close to being completed.
“We'll see what happens in the next few days, if we can all make an effort so the negotiations come to a good end.
“I am the one who has the most desire to sign for Madrid.
“It's a question more for the clubs, but, as I understand, it seems everything is going well and there is little left to resolve. It could all be sealed this week.”
Benitez could also be set to part with Italy international Andrea Dossena, who is close to joining Napoli in a £4.3million deal.
His agent, Roberto La Florio, said: “Liverpool have accepted (Napoli chairman) Aurelio De Laurentiis' offer. It is now just a matter of days.
“The two clubs are in agreement, Liverpool accepted Napoli's offer, but I can't say any more.
“With regards to Andrea there are no problems, it's only a matter of days.”