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Rafael Benítez secured a bittersweet victory over Real Madrid tonight when the Spanish club met his £30m demand for Xabi Alonso and took their summer spending spree through the £200m barrier.

Alonso will undergo a medical in the Spanish capital tomorrow after Real finally relented over an asking price that Benítez had steadfastly refused to lower all summer. The 27-year-old is expected to sign a four-year contract at the Bernabéu worth £3.8m a year after tax, a package that was agreed in principle between Real and Alonso several months ago and prompted the Spain international to tell Benítez that he wished to end a successful five-year stay on Merseyside.

had previously rejected a £25m offer from Real for their popular midfielder, who was Benítez’s first signing at Anfield in a £10.7m move from Real Sociedad in 2004, with the manager adamant that only a fee of £30m would trigger a deal. Liverpool’s new managing director, Christian Purslow, reiterated there would be no compromise on the fee in a meeting with Real’s executive director general, Jose Angel Sanchez, at a meeting in Barcelona on Sunday.

Two days later, while Alonso was training with Liverpool at Melwood this afternoon, Real returned with the full asking price and the midfielder was withdrawn from a scheduled pre-season trip to Oslo and travelled instead to Madrid.

Alonso’s impending departure represents a major setback for Liverpool supporters, who voted the Spaniard second to Steven Gerrard in man of the match awards last season, and also for Benítez ahead of a season that brings expectations of the club’s first league title for 20 years. The disappointment for the manager, however, will be offset by an injection of £30m into his transfer budget and the fact he has enticed an extra £12m out of Real for a player he tried to sell to Juventus for £18m only 12 months ago.

Benítez’s attempt to sell Alonso against his wishes last summer, to finance a deal for the then Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry, broke a previously close relationship between the manager and player. Alonso subsequently described their relationship as “professional” and, as his desire to leave for Real confirms, was hurt by his manager’s actions, although he responded by producing arguably the best form of his Liverpool career last season.

Alonso’s impressive reaction to the events of last summer, coupled with the need for proven Premier League talent ahead of a title challenge, prompted Benítez to revise his view on the midfielder. But he has been aware of the player’s determination to leave for several months and knew Real’s improved spending power under Florentino Pérez could transform his transfer budget.

With £30m banked for Alonso, Liverpool are now expected to make an £18m offer for the Roma midfielder, Alberto Aquilani. The Italian international is under contract at the Stadio Olimpico until 2013 but is believed to be receptive to a lucrative move to Anfield. The Valencia forward David Silva is another long-standing target of the Liverpool manager, who has spent £17m on Glen Johnson this summer but also recouped almost £5m from the sales of Alvaro Arbeloa and Sebastián Leto to Real and Panathinaikos respectively. The defender Andrea Dossena is also expected to leave Anfield.

The Alonso deal is the first major transfer Benítez has overseen since signing a new contract that granted him greater authority on such matters last season. While Real’s offer represents a reward for the manager’s hardball stance, the agreement is also a success for Alonso, who resolved to leave Anfield this summer and handed in a transfer request last week to pressure Real into concluding a deal.

Furthermore, his arrival in Spain indicates that Manuel Pellegrini and Jorge Valdano, Real’s coach and director general, succeeded in persuading Pérez that while Alonso may not sell as many shirts as £80m Cristiano Ronaldo or £56m Kaka, his playmaking skills are “fundamental” to the president’s latest gálactico project.

Source : Fourfourtwo & BBC Sport