Liverpool have reiterated their determination to hang on to Xabi Alonso, despite Real Madrid president Florentino Perez admitting his desire to sign the playmaker.
Anfield officials claim only a 'mind-blowing' offer would prise the 27-year-old away from the club, with manager Rafael Benitez seeing Alonso as a crucial part of the 'spine' of his team.
A fee of £22million has been touted for the Spanish international, but Benitez is understood to value the player nearer the £30m mark.
Key player: Since joining Liverpool from Real Sociedad for £10.5m, Alonso has become an integral part of Benitez's side.
The midfielder weighed in with three goals this season, including this penalty against Chelsea in the Champions League
Hot on the heels of the imminent £56million signing of Brazilain superstar Kaka, Perez remarked: 'Xabi is a magnificent Spanish player, so of course we'd love to have him.
'But everything would involve reaching an agreement with Rafael Ben?. It will need to be an agreement that is in the best interests of both clubs,' Perez told the Times.
In the form of his life and with three years remaining on his contract, Benitez is keen to keep Alonso, one of three signings from his native Spain made immediately after his appointment as Liverpool boss in 2004.
'We are working very hard to keep the spine of the team - that was always the idea,' he told Liverpool'sofficial magazine.
'We have Pepe Reina as the No1 goalkeeper with DiegoCavalieri behind him, another good goalkeeper. Then we have [Martin]Skrtel, [Jamie] Carragher and [Daniel] Agger - three good centre-backs.
'Then you go to the midfield with Alonso, [Javier] Mascherano, Lucas and[Steven] Gerrard, with [Fernando] Torres up front and [David] Ngog, whois a very good prospect. We have a good squad that is still young, sohopefully we can improve further,' he said.