Friday, 31 July 2009

Alonso move becomes less clear the more papers you read

There appears to be mass speculation, contradiction, confusion, claim and counter claim in the media regarding the ‘summer saga’ that is Xabi Alonso. Today’s papers hold more plot twists then a Hitchcock movie and cold war spy thriller novel combined.

“For a club that has spent €160m on just two players, one would have imagined that splashing a further few million on a midfielder “fundamental” to their plans wouldn’t be a problem for ‘deep-pockets’ Florentino Perez,” says The Telegraph, however the “Madrid president is rather more frugal when the value of the player in question rests almost exclusively in football terms,” adds the story. The article claims “Madrid have made an offer of €24m (£20.5m)”, for Alonso. Which is way below “Liverpool’s initial asking price of €40m,” says the story. But manager Rafa Benítez “is now holding out for €30m (£26m) which would most likely rise to €33m with incentives.” However, Perez is unwilling to raise “his offer of €25m.”

Meanwhile the Guardian appears to suggest the move to be less problematic claiming “Xabi Alonso will complete his £28m move to you-know-who on Monday.”However elsewhere, the paper says: “Real Madrid have made an offer of €24m (£20.5m) for Alonso,” and “Benítez is holding out for €30m (£26m) plus incentives which would see the total exceed €33m.” The story also adds: “Pérez, though, has resisted increasing his offer above €25m.”

The Times isn’t so confident. They say: “Liverpool were continuing to play hardball over Xabi Alonso last night as Real Madrid braced themselves for more disappointment despite making an improved £28 million bid for the Spain midfield player.” The story claims Reds boss Rafa Benitez is refusing to budge from his £30m asking price and the 48-hour deadline set for a Real has passed, leaving negotiations at an impasse. “Florentino Pérez, the Real president, is thought to have been irritated at being given an ultimatum by Liverpool,” says the story, as he recently suggested Alonso was overpriced, however “having described the player as “fundamental” to his summer spending plans, it is expected that Pérez will match Benítez's valuation,” claims the article.

The Independent says: “Sources in Spain suggest that Real president Florentino Perez has actually lowered his original offer of £24million because of Alonso's demand to move.” However the paper thinks a deal may be done as early as the end of the weekend, by sayng: “Benitez and Alonso now want a quick solution to the situation, ahead of Liverpool's trip to play Espanyol in their new stadium in Barcelona on Sunday.”

Tonights Echo says: “Liverpool are braced for an improved bid for Xabi Alonso as Real Madrid step up their pursuit of the midfielder.” “Real Madrid must now improve their initial £24million offer” as the Reds are “holding out for a fee of around £30million.”

Sky Sports says: “It is reported that a deal could be struck in the next couple of days for Alonso to join Real for a price in the region of £25million.”

The Express states Benitez will “reluctantly cut the asking price and negotiate in the hope of reaching a compromise at £28m.”

The Mail is running the transfer saga but has added a new twist into the mix with the screaming headline:

“Xabi Alonso twist: Chelsea and Manchester City ready to pounce if Real Madrid stall on meeting Liverpool’s asking price.”

The story says: “both clubs are just £2.5million apart” in their evaluation of the player as they head into the “final stretch of negotiations over Xabi Alonso's move to the Bernabeu.”

The article adds that “talks will take place over the weekend with Monday set as the deadline for a deal to be struck,” however Liverpool are “reluctant to go much under £30m,” suggesting “a compromise figure around £28m could be reached.”

However the story warns that if the deal stalls, he could move to Chelsea or Manchester City, who “both enquired about the Spain midfielder in May, but were told he is not for sale.” The article adds: “Stamford Bridge boss Carlo Ancelotti remains keen if the price is right.”

This implausible added plot line would suggest Alonso simply wants to move away from Liverpool at all costs, but may not care where his destination will be.

The Mirror says Benitez has lowered his asking price from £35m to £30m, but Madrid ar not prepared to pay more then £27m. The article adds that: “the star's agent, Inaki Ibanezis, is in Madrid, ready to begin official talks with Real once he gets the green light.”

The Star says: “Benitez stood firm, maintaining that Real would have to fork up £35m. Real refused to go above £22m. Now a compromise is near at £28m.”

Add into the mix that Tuesday’s Telegraph stated “Madrid are yet to lodge a formal offer.” Presumably if this is true, all these offers, rejections and counter offers have taken place in the past four days.

Most papers appear to agree on one thing however ‘money bags’ Madrid need to offload players before they can spend any more money. Papers are suggesting the Bernabeu club will offload Alvaro Negredo, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Rafael Van der Vaart, Gabriel Heinze and Arjen Robben. A few story’s are speculating some of the above players may be offered to Liverpool in a player plus cash deal.

Even the claim that Alonso handed a transfer request in the first place appears to have sparked claim and counter claim. The Times thickens the plot somewhat by saying:

“Sources at Liverpool said that Alonso submitted a transfer request on Wednesday evening in an effort to hasten a move to Real, but the suggestions were dismissed by Alonso's representatives, who insisted that the player had taken no such action.”

So there you have it. Alonso did or didn’t hand in a transfer request. Real Madrid refuse to bid above £20m or £24m. With Rafa ‘holding out’ for a fee anywhere between £26m-£30m. A comprimise may be struck at £28m. The deadline for the deal has passed and Real Madrid have not made an offer yet!!

One thing is certain, if a deal is struck it will boost Benitez’s transfer budget considerably. The Reds boss has already raised around £8million from the sales of Alvaro Arbeloa, Sebastian Leto, Jack Hobbs and Paul Anderson this summer. The impending sale of Alonso and Andrea Dossena’s expected switch to Napoli could push his transfer kitty beyond the £40million mark.

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