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Benitez plays down Alonso, Mascherano transfer prospect
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Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez played down reports Thursday that Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano are on the verge of leaving the club.

Alonso has been tipped to join new signings Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka at Real Madrid and Spanish media Thursday said the move was imminent with a new offer on the table.

Mascherano has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

But Benitez, who has refused to budge on his asking price of 35 million euros for Alonso, said the player was still part of the team.

The 27-year-old was expected to have talks with Benitez after joining his teammates in Vienna on Sunday ahead of their flight to Bangkok, where he played no part in Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Thailand on Wednesday.

Reports have also surfaced over the past few days suggesting midfielder Mascherano, from Argentina, was fed up with life in England and wanted to move to Barcelona.

Benitez said there had been no developments.

"In the press these days there are too many websites, too many newspapers, radio, television. You have to have stories every day so sometimes you repeat something from 15 days ago," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 24, 2009)

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