Rumour Mill: Alonso, Mascherano latest

Liverpool’s central midfield duo of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano continue to be linked with big money moves to Spain in today’s papers.

Reports suggest that Real Madrid have upped their bid for Alonso after having a £20million bid for the Spanish international turned down by Rafa Benitez last week.

Today’s papers say Real are now preparing a £30million bid for Alonso to add him to their growing list of expensive transfers this summer.

The figure would also include the purchase of Alvaro Arbeloa, who now looks set for an Anfield exit after the imminent signing of Portsmouth right-back Glen Johnson.

Some quotes from Spain today seem to suggest the current economic climate could decide Alonso’s future, with the pound currently at a weak point against the Euro.

When asked about that, Alonso told reporters, ‘œOf course we footballers think about it; we are not stupid, we keep an eye on it,” Alonso said. “When you see your contract down by 30 per cent you cannot be happy. I cannot do anything ‘“ it must be Gordon Brown or David Cameron.

“I think the weakness of the sterling is not helping the Premiership because for those competing and fighting against the European teams it is a big weak point. Hopefully over the next few months and years it will get back to what it was not so long ago.”

Meanwhile Mascherano is said to be unhappy at recent new contracts and pay-rises to his teammates, including the reported £80,000 a week the Reds will pay Johnson.

Reports say he wants a piece of the pie or will take a move to La Liga.

The Argentine international captain was flattered by the speculation surround him with a move to Real or Barcelona. He said, “It’s really flattering. For me it means great recognition because we are talking about big clubs.

“I feel comfortable at Liverpool, but it’s always good to know that teams like Barca and Madrid are interested in you. I feel very grateful.”

Meanwhile, the Reds have once again been linked with Real’s Argentinian defender Gabriel Heinze, who may be seen as a great replacement for Sami Hyypia by Benitez.