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August 6, 2009

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Alonso deal ends Real buying spree

REAL Madrid has ended its search for new signings with the deal to sign Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso from Liverpool and will now focus on trimming its squad, director general Jorge Valdano said yesterday.

Alonso is due to take a medical in Madrid before completing a reported 30 million euros (US$43.17 million) transfer later in the day. He is not expected to be presented to fans until after the club's tour to North America which was to leave yesterday.

"We understood Xabi Alonso was an important player to complete our squad, and it was worth Real Madrid fighting for him," Valdano said.

"The club needed a shake up. Some very good players have come in to strengthen every position and the fans are very excited. With this move we end the search for new players. We continue searching for an exit for those who are surplus to requirements."

Having spent around 250 million euros (US$359.8 million) to lure eight players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema to the Bernabeu, Real has until the end of August to cut Manuel Pellegrini's squad back to 25 players.

Midfielder Rafael van der Vaart and forwards Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Alvaro Negredo have been linked with interest from clubs in Germany, Italy and England.

Liverpool confirmed the sale.

"Liverpool Football Club this evening confirmed they had reached agreement for the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, subject only to a medical," the club said in a statement on its Website.

"The terms of the deal will remain confidential and undisclosed."

Youth ranks

Alonso came up through the youth ranks with Real Sociedad and was one of Rafael Benitez's first signings when he took charge of Liverpool in 2004, moving for 10.5 million pounds.

He quickly became a Kop favorite helping it win the Champions League in 2005 and the FA Cup the following year. Alonso has also been a regular feature in the Spain squad since 2003 and was a part of Luis Aragones' victorious side at Euro 2008.

Benitez fought hard to keep a player central to his plans but media reported it was Alonso who requested a transfer.

The nine-time European champion Real has been keen to land an experienced defensive midfielder, who is also a good passer of the ball, to give balance to a side packed with offensive talent.

In response to a trophy-less season made worse by archrival Barcelona scooping a treble, new president Florentino Perez has set in motion a huge squad rebuilding program at the Bernabeu.

Meanwhile, defender Michel Salgado, 33, has agreed to leave Real after 10 years with the Primera Liga club.

Also, Danish brewer Carlsberg hopes to complete talks on extending its Liverpool sponsorship within a few months, its chief executive said yesterday,

Carlsberg is the main sponsor of the English Premier League team.

"It's always hard to set a deadline for negotiations but within the next couple of months, we'll hopefully have a conclusion," Carlsberg Chief Executive Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen said, adding that it was difficult to imagine that Carlsberg would switch to sponsoring any other English football club.


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