Balague on Alonso: ‘œNext 24 hours are pivotal’

Spanish football pundit Guillem Balague says Rafa Benitez and Xabi Alonso will hold crunch talks face to face today and tomorrow as the pair meet each other for the first time since the end of last season.

Alonso has returned to training with the Liverpool squad and is set to watch tonight’s pre-season friendly away at Rapid Vienna from the stands.

Balague says Benitez will aim to convince Alonso not leave for Real Madrid and the next few hours could prove ‘œpivotal’ in the Spanish international midfielder’s future at Anfield.

Posting on his official blog, Balague said, ‘œThis summer’s Xabi Alonso transfer saga will soon reach its conclusion.

‘œReal Madrid will be eagerly anticipating the outcome of Xabi Alonso`s meeting with Rafa Benitez today: the first time that the Liverpool coach and midfielder have met in person since the end of last season.

‘œAlonso has spoken with Benitez on numerous occasions in recent weeks, but today presents the player with an opportunity to convince his manager, face to face, to allow him to fulfil his ambition of signing for Real Madrid.

‘œThe mood and outcome of these talks are pivotal: Real Madrid know their latest bid of €27 million falls short of Liverpool`s lowest valuation and, at this moment in time, the Spanish club are not prepared to increase their offer.’

Balague continued to state that he believes a decision on Alonso’s future will be reached in the next 24 hours.

He added, ‘œDependent upon the outcome of these discussions between Benitez and Alonso, and a degree of compromise on the part of both clubs, we could be talking about the deal being on or off within the next 24 hours. Either way, I would be bold enough to suggest that all will be resolved, either way, within the next week.’

Rumours this weekend have suggested that Alonso will commit to the Reds for one more season before making his move back to La Liga.