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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 16, 2009

Alonso hoping to stay with Liverpool next season

Xabi Alonso has made it very clear that he does not wish to be a victim of Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez's summer of rebuilding.

The Reds - who saw their Premier League title hopes dashed by Manchester United's goalless draw with Arsenal - play their final away match of the season when they could finally condemn West Brom to relegation at The Hawthorns.

Then, next Sunday, Anfield will bid farewell to a dramatic season when Tottenham visit Merseyside.

But Benitez is already planning the major changes he knows are needed to improve Liverpool's chances of glory next season.

Last summer midfielder Alonso found himself being used as a bargaining tool as Benitez fought, unsuccessfully, to bring in Aston Villa's Gareth Barry.

Benitez, now with almost total control over transfers, has been promised £20million of new money this time around but just as last summer, he will have to raise any further funds by selling.

Alonso, who returns to the side at West Brom after an ankle injury, has already been mentioned as a possible source of cash, with a fee of £18m touted for his services.

But although he has been strongly linked with Juventus, Manchester City and Arsenal, the 27-year-old has again made it clear he wants to stay at Anfield.

He said: "Time flies. I have already been here for five years, and it has gone so fast.

"There have been ups and downs, but I have tried to enjoy and learn from every situation. I have developed into a much better player and person.

"A lot of things have changed for me during my time here and now I am looking forward to my sixth season as a Liverpool player.''

The Spain international said: "I have seen this kind of situation so many times in my career. It is just rumours and you can't be talking about them because there is nothing more than this so far.

"It is more important at this time to think of how we can be even better and this means keeping the good basis that we have settled on this season and by trying to go a little bit further.

"And we need to start taking three points from games when we are not at our best, this will make a big difference at the end of a season.''

Alonso has been heralded as one of the Reds' best players this season by fans and pundits alike.

He added: "It has been a complete season for me.

"I have felt good and feel I have been playing well, too. I have been very happy and want to carry that through our final few games of the campaign.

"I finished last season well and was able to continue that with Spain at Euro 2008. That continued into this season and I feel I have been at a very good level for about 12 or so months now.

"Now I have to try to carry that on into next season. It's not about what you have done, but what you have to do.''

Benitez has suggested he does not want to sell his best players, and Liverpool fans hope that includes Alonso, who received remarkable terrace support last summer when it looked like he was going to be sacrificed to raise the cash to buy Barry.

This summer Benitez will again go for Barry, who Villa boss Martin O'Neill considers impossible to retain with no Champions League football to offer.

But whereas Villa wanted £18m last summer, Benitez believes that fee will be slashed to no more than £10m because Barry's contract is running down.

He also seems likely to sign 27-year-old Croatian left-winger Daniel Pranjic from Heerenveen in Holland, where he has proved to be a consistent goal scorer.

More than two dozen players have been linked with Liverpool in the past fortnight alone, but 24-year-old Almeria striker Alvaro Negredo is a genuine target for £10m, while Benitez still wants Valencia forward David Silva, with an offer of the table.

The potential arrival of another left-winger suggests that Ryan Babel could also be sold for around £10m.

Benitez will raise further money by selling players currently on loan, including Ukraine striker Andriy Voronin for £8m, while Jermaine Pennant will be released and could join Portsmouth on a free transfer.

Goalkeeper Charles Itandje will leave, and Benitez has already raised £1m by agreeing to sell youngster Jack Hobbs to Leicester.

Youngsters like Craig Lindfield, Adam Hammill, Paul Anderson and Sebastian Leto - all out on loan - are also likely to go for small fees.

Benitez underlined Liverpool's likely problems this week when he said: "In this summer's transfer window, I feel that the price of the players is unbelievable now.

"It is very difficult for me to pay £80m, £100m or £50m, because if the player leaves, you lose all your money.''

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