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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 23, 2006

Benitez dismisses Alonso link with Real Madrid

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has ruled out any move to Real Madrid for star midfielder Xabi Alonso as he prepares for further signings to bolster his squad.

Benitez takes his squad to a Swiss training camp on Tuesday, with three matches scheduled for the trip, and he has vowed to add new faces ahead of the Reds' Champions League third qualifying round tie on August 9.

And one of the first could be Jermaine Pennant, with sources close to the player expecting a bid for the Birmingham winger soon.

But first Benitez has been forced to quash speculation about Alonso, saying: 'There has been no truth in stories about Xabi Alonso, we have had no official contact and for sure he is staying here, we do not want to sell him.'

The move for Pennant is expected later this week, with Liverpool still distancing themselves from claims they were on the brink of landing Damien Duff ahead of his move to Newcastle.

Liverpool sources claim they were `offered' the player but did not make a bid. Either way, the club will now certainly move on to Pennant.

Before Saturday's friendly win at Crewe, chief executive Rick Parry had pointedly denied an official move, saying: 'We have not made a bid for Pennant.'

However, that could well change in the coming days with a £5million offer likely.

Liverpool desperately need a right-sided midfielder - left winger Duff would hardly have fitted the bill - with the long-running saga involving Sevilla's Daniel Alves seemingly having stalled.

Benitez used youngsters Paul Anderson and Darren Potter in that role at Crewe, but admitted: 'We are still looking for new players, everybody knows what we are looking for now better than me! I am happy with the young players and they need more experience before being thrown in, that's why we will continue to work in the transfer market.'

Parry has admitted that Liverpool are monitoring two Spanish youngsters - Fran Merida, a teenage midfielder from Barcelona, and Real Madrid's Esteban Granero.

'We are aware of both players, but talk of moves is wide of the mark,' Parry added.

Benitez was impressed with the performance of teenager Craig Lindfield against Crewe after the player struck a fine winner for the Reds.

'The positive thing was the movement of Lindfield and Robbie Fowler, I was very pleased with that,' the Spaniard said.

'Lindfield is a very good player and he has the potential to do well in the game. The understanding with Fowler was excellent. Robbie is very clever and able to make use of good movement around him.

'Lindfield needs to be stronger, but I was really pleased with him. But you cannot build a new star after just 45 minutes. He still has to work hard.

'I still believe we will have more new players soon, we have lots of names that we are considering.'