Liverpool to fight Manchester City for the 'new Xabi Alonso'

Liverpool are on the trail of a Real Betis midfielder Benat Etxebarria Urkiaga, understandably nicknamed Benat.

The 25-year-old Spaniard is hailed as the ‘new Xabi Alonso’ and the Reds are understood to be hot on the heels of Manchester City to sign the Betis maestro.

Benat has emerged as one of the Spanish international side's best emerging talents and has picked up four caps, which, considering their talent pool, is impressive.

His passing, especially long-range and through-balls, is exquisite whilst his vision and creativity has lead to many comparisons between him and his elder compatriot Alonso.

The latter was a former hero at Anfield, anchoring the defense and attack, and described recently by Steven Garrard as the best player he’d played with. The pair remain close friends and, in all fairness, Gerrard reached the peak of his powers whilst the Spaniard was alongside him.

His ability to offer the necessary protection to the Liverpool backline, freed the England captain to roam forward, where he is most effective. Since Alonso’s departure, Gerrard has been just as influential, probably more so, but has been forced to shoulder the burden of responsibility in the centre of the park oftentimes completely alone.

Benat has all the same qualities as Alonso - and is also adept going forward, if he continues to improve, has the capability of becoming as important a player for both club and country. He could provide the balance to Liverpool that they have lacked in midfield since Javier Mascherano engineered his move to the Nou Camp in 2010.

Brendan Rodgers will have to fend off Premier League champions Manchester City to get his man, though. Their scouts have been ‘closely monitoring’ the player as they look to replace Nigel de Jong’s role in their side.

Benat is valued at around £15 million, which may be the factor that decides his destination – but he is unlikely to remain at Real Betis if he aims to stake his claim over his position in the national side.

At City he would be unlikely to see as much game time – crucial if he is to achieve his international ambitions – competition for places with Yaya Toure might see him prefer to follow in Alonso’s footsteps to Liverpool.

Here he is in action scoring against Real Madrid...

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