Anfield side step-up pursuit to lure Bernabeu star back to Merseyside. Liverpool are set to step-up their long running interest in re-signing Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso as Brendan Rodgers looks to further strengthen his Anfield squad. CaughtOffside understands that the Merseyside club are in exploratory talks with the Bernabeu side with a view to accessing the availability of their former player and are ready to fork out up to £12m for the 31 year old, who has just a year to run on his current contract. Liverpool appear to have lost out in the race to sign Shakhtar Donestk playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with the Armenian closing in on a Borussia Dortmund switch, and as such Rodgers could be set to miss out on his number one summer target and is keen to continue efforts to build a squad that can mount a genuine push for a top four spot and the resultant Champions League berth that is the club’s number one target for 2013/14. Liverpool have been given encouragement from the Alonso camp that their former fan favourite would be open to a move back to the club and Carlo Ancelotti’s pursuit of Real Sociedad youngster Asier Illarramendi suggests that the Spanish giants are looking to bring in a long term replacement for the World Cup winner.