LIVERPOOL - Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez admits he was resigned to losing Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid three months ago.
Alonso is set to complete his protracted £30million (R397million) switch to Real after passing a medical with the Spanish club yesterday.
The 27-year-old wanted to leave after falling out with Benitez last year when the Anfield chief tried to sell Alonso to finance a move for England midfielder Gareth Barry.
Benitez was keen to keep Alonso this time but he knew that wouldn't be possible when the former Real Sociedad star asked for a transfer three months ago.
"We would have liked to have kept him but as soon as he told us that he wanted to leave we started working, looking for players and trying to do the best deal for the club," Benitez told Liverpool's website.
"It has been too long, since May, that he told us he wanted to leave and after the official transfer request we were working very hard.
"The first idea was to keep him and the second one was to find the best price and the best replacement for us."
Roma's Alberto Aquilani is believed to be Benitez's first choice to replace Alonso, though the 25-year-old Italian international will have to prove his fitness first after surgery on his right ankle in May. - Sapa-AFP