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By ESPN Staff
Aug 9, 2008

Benitez: Alonso can go for the right price

Rafael Benitez is still refusing to rule out the possibility that he could sell Xabi Alonso - despite the astonishing support the midfielder has received from Liverpool fans.

But the Anfield boss, who also insists that 'Liverpool are ready for the Champions League' next week, maintains Alonso will only leave now if the club receives a massive offer for his services.

Benitez is still embroiled in the Gareth Barry saga, despite failing to receive financial backing from the club's American owners and their support for the £18million transfer.

And he clearly needs money to continue his stubborn pursuit of the Aston Villa midfielder just a week away from the Premier League opening weekend.

Benitez also acknowledges the clear support for Alonso from the Liverpool fans, and their obvious distaste for the Barry deal voiced during last night's 1-0 friendly win over Lazio at Anfield.

But not even that reaction from the fans will make Benitez confirm that Alonso will not be sold.

Benitez said: 'We knew Alonso was a very good player and as a result he had a good price (on his head). We had offers, but they were not enough so we decided he needed to stay with us.

'It could be that he does stay with us.

'For me it is not a problem if he stays or not. He can stay, we always have felt he is a good player.

'We are only talking about a very, very good price. He is a good player, if he is not going to bring a good price then it is very simple, easy to understand.

'I heard the crowd, obviously. We know now, as we knew before, that he could stay with us.'

Andriy Voronin's winner against the Italians could also be his last for the club, because Benitez clearly is looking to sell to fund the Barry deal.

It comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed the saga of the Americans' ownership to discover that money is not readily available and new objections to a deal are being placed on Benitez at a very late stage of negotiations.

He added: 'It is not positive that we may not have the players we want here before the Champions League game. But the transfer window closes at the end of August, we will try to do our best to bring in the players to improve us by then.

'I try to do the best for my club with the possibilities that you have, I have done this every since I have been here. And I am trying to do the same for this coming season.

'I do not feel any more pressure, every season is the same. We have a good squad, better than before, but we can improve a little bit more.'

Benitez obviously intends to continue his master-plan to recruit Barry, who he sees as a player who can fill three different roles. Barry can play central midfield, left side of midfield or left-back.

The 28-year-old will probably not be there in Belgium next Wednesday for the Champions League third qualifying round first leg against Standard Liege.

But after seeing his squad stay unbeaten in eight pre-season friendlies, Benitez believes they are ready for the demands of making sure Liverpool reach the Champions League group stages.

He said: 'More or less the side that played against Lazio will be the one that plays in the Champions League on Wednesday in Belgium.

'Most of the senior players were involved, this will be the side that plays against Standard Liege.

'The situation has been very difficult for us, we have had a lot of players returning to training late after international games in the summer and now we have players at the Olympics.

'It has given me a chance to see the young players during pre-season, and I am sure that the future of the club is guaranteed.

'I believe we are ready for the Champions League tie, the experienced players are ready. But we know that we have quality from the young players.

'I have not decided whether any more will go out on loan, it depends on whether we sell anyone else. If we do not bring anyone else in, maybe we do not need to add anyone or loan any of the youngsters.'

Benitez now will determinedly continue his chase for Barry, with the risk that he could find himself again at loggerheads with Liverpool's owners.

Last time that happened his outbursts almost cost him his job. This time around he is more aware of how far he can go with any defiance. But he still wants Barry.

Tellingly, Benitez said after the Lazio game: '(This deal) is not about money.

'We have a good player(Alonso) and we have another good player coming in soon.

'We can improve the squad, so we will try to do that. We will bring in one more player if we can.

'Who comes in? It could be another left-sided player rather than a central midfielder.

'The player I want can play in three different positions, that is a positive thing. I am talking about one player, but I won't say the name.

'He is English and he can three different positions, but I am talking about someone who can play on the left.'

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