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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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By ESPN Staff

Benitez - Gerrard stays

Rafael Benitez has firmly dismissed any notion that Liverpool would sell Steven Gerrard to Real Madrid.

Anfield captain Gerrard was named on a list of targets presented to new president Fernando Martin by football director Benito Floro, who is expected to leave the Spanish giants shortly as the regime takes control.

Liverpool boss Benitez, who expects to have Gerrard back for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford against Chelsea after a minor hamstring strain, said: 'The situation is very clear, Steven Gerrard is not for sale.'

Benitez was responding to Floro's report which also included the proposal of installing German, and current Getafe boss, Bernd Schuster as coach.

The report also contained his recommendations on possible signings and he has now conceded Gerrard was on the list, adding he was a player Real have tried to sign previously.

He said: 'I recommended as a priority the signing of a powerful centre forward, like Adriano, and a top class midfielder in case (Zinedine) Zidane leaves.

'Gerrard is a footballer I include in that list, he is a player the club have wanted to sign in previous seasons.'

But it is expected Floro could soon leave the club, and identifying Gerrard as a potential target for one of Europe's top clubs is hardly rocket science.

And with the World Cup approaching, a stage Gerrard could well dominate, the prospect of a long list of suitors wanting the Liverpool skipper is very likely.

The only bright spot for Liverpool as they steal themselves for a third summer of such speculation is that Chelsea will not be on the list this time, Gerrard having signed a new four-year contract last summer to stave off a second move by Jose Mourinho for the player.