Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has identified Real Madrid's former Chelsea and Arsenal enforcer Lassana Diarra as the man to fill Xabi Alonso's boots at Anfield, according to reports.
Alonso left Merseyside during the close season to join Karim Benzema, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo as part of Real's £200 million summer spending spree.
The Spaniard's exit has coincided with the Reds' disastrous start to the 2009/10 campaign, with five league defeats already three more than they suffered in the whole of last season, while losses to Fiorentina and Lyon in the Champions League group phase leaving their hopes of European glory in serious doubt.
Benitez spent the majority of the 30 million euros received from Alonso's sale on Roma playmaker Alberto Aquilani, who is expected to provide a more attacking style similar to Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard than the defensive-minded Alonso.
And, according to the People, Benitez has inked in Alonso's current Real Madrid team-mate Diarra as the man to hold together his sinking ship.
The 24-year-old French international, who joined Real from Portsmouth for £20 million in January 2009, has featured prominently for Manuel Pellegrini's side so far this term.
However, competition for places at the Bernabeu is fierce with Lassana Diarra, namesake Mahamadou, Alonso, Raul Albiol, Royston Drenthe, Rafael van der Vaart, Esteban Granero and Fernando Gago all vying for midfield places.
While the report claims that Diarra is struggling to settle in Spain and would welcome the opportunity to return to English shores.comments