Benitez admits interest in Villa and Keane

Rafael Benitez has promised there will be at least one new big-name striker at Liverpool before the start of the season but admits he has no idea when the Gareth Barry saga will be concluded.

Rafael Benitez has promised there will be at least one new big-name striker at Liverpool before the start of the season but admits he has no idea when the Gareth Barry saga will be concluded.

The Liverpool boss has admitted his exasperation at the drawn-out campaign to prise Barry from Aston Villa, which shows no sign of ending.

And the Spaniard has also revealed the growing financial problems he is having in the transfer market.

He admits that Tottenham skipper Robbie Keane is a target, but although he is also a big fan of Valencia and Spain striker David Villa, a move seems unlikely.

Benitez unveiled two new full-backs today, Swiss international Philipp Degen and £6m Italian defender Andrea Dossena, and expects to formally announce a £3m deal for Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri in the near future.

But it has become increasingly obvious that Benitez is working with a much smaller budget than was expected at the end of last season when figures of £25-30m were being suggested as a potential kitty.

He admitted: “We know the situation regarding what we can spend, and we are trying to find solutions if we do not have enough money.

“And we will still try to sign players that will make us better. But if you do not have too much money, and that is clear, we will have to have a little bit of imagination to progress in the market.

“Everyone knows what our ideas are and what players we want. We are working hard with different names now, and at the moment that is not (David) Villa.

“We will have another main striker before the season starts, maybe two.”

He added: “We had our ideas at the end of the season. We have tried to use players to raise money for business in the past, sometimes selling players who have not settled down.

“This summer it is very much the same idea. We know we will have to sell some players if we want some cash. So we have to do that.

“The fans must trust us, we are working hard during the summer with a lot of people in different countries working for us.

“We have a new keeper. And we are looking for a lot of players for the right price.

“Now if we want to spend we can do it. But we have to be careful what we do spend.”

There have been rumours for weeks that Benitez is working with very little money, although sources insist that he can complete the deal for Barry without selling Xabi Alonso.

That deal – with Juventus – has also gone cold and Benitez revealed: “The situation with Alonso has not changed.

“Juventus made an offer that was not good enough and now we are just waiting. I do not know, really, whether that will go through.

“Xabi wants to stay because he is happy here but he also knows that Juventus is a top side. I have talked to him, he knows my ideas and he knows why. So we will try to find a solution for him, for us, and the best for the club.”

Liverpool have been linked continually with Irish striker Keane.

Benitez said: “David Villa is one of the players on our list, but at this moment I do not see it being an option for us.

“Keane is also one of the names we are interested in, and we are still working on other possible situations.

“There has been some contact (over Keane) but we will have to see how things progress.”

On Villa, he added: “We know he is a very good player, we know the price, and we know the players we have. At this moment he is not our target.

“We are still waiting on Gareth Barry. I prefer now not to say anything and to wait.”

Sources at the club claim the price for the Villa midfielder could have risen above the £18m the midlanders’ manager Martin O’Neill was believed to want.

There is a growing frustration at Anfield with the continual shifting of the position, and the elimination from the deal of several Reds players who initially interested Villa, but who are now not on O’Neill’s wishlist.

And now the fact that Barry is banned from Villa’s training ground and has already missed a week of vital pre-season work is also worrying Liverpool and could, it is claimed, affect their willingness to meet Villa’s demands regarding the fee.

With Aston Villa away at a Swiss training camp, and Liverpool soon to be in the same country next week at their own base, the conclusion of the Barry saga looks some way off.

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