Rafa - Alonso is key
Rafa Benitez has emphasised the crucial role played by Xabi Alonso in the heart of Liverpool's midfield. Alonso continues to be linked with a move away from Anfield despite Benitez's insistence last week that he would not be going anywhere. The Liverpool manager has now made it clear that the Spaniard remains an integral part of his plans for the future. Benitez is plotting how to overhaul Manchester United in the Premier League title race next season and believes he is within touching distance of assembling the right squad. The likes of Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina will once again be key components in 2008/9 and Benitez believes Alonso is just as important. "We are working very hard to keep the spine of the team - that was always the idea," Benitez told LFC Magazine. "We have Pepe Reina as the number one goalkeeper with Diego Cavalieri 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 Gerrard, with Torres up front and (David) Ngog, who is a very good prospect. We have a good squad that is still young, so hopefully we can improve further. "We know we still need to improve in some specific areas. We will be working very hard to do that over the summer."
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