Alvaro Arbeloa must be signed by Napoli ahead of Arsenal

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Rafael Benitez could be reunited with Spanish international Alvaro Arbeloa when the transfer window reopens in the New Year.

The defender is keen to leave current club Real Madrid after falling out of favour with manager Carlo Ancelotti, and could link up with his former Liverpool manager at the Stadio San Paolo in the foreseeable future.

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It appears the most likely destination given the Italian side's need to recruit after a sluggish start to the season, and could see him play out a brighter future than the dark one that now awaits him in the Spanish capital.

Liverpool links

Benitez signed the 31-year-old back in January 2007, reuniting him with his compatriots Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres.

In his two years on Merseyside he established himself as one of the most capable defenders in the Premier League, and also came bitterly close to a Champions League triumph before the Reds were beaten 2-1 by Carlo Ancelotti’s AC Milan.

He was also part of the side that were agonisingly close to a maiden Premier League season in 2009 before being pipped by Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United to the title instead.

Such consistent performances were always going to attract possible suitors, and Madrid moved fastest to secure his services and bring him back to the Santiago Bernabeu after initially leaving in 2005.

Napoli need

Napoli have been frustrating to watch this year, with speculation rising that Benitez could be relieved of his duties if he fails to turn the problem around. They escaped the San Siro with a credible point after a 2-2 thriller with Inter MIlan, and will be looking to earn some much needed points when they play Verona and Atalanta later in the month.

Argentinean goal machine Gonzalo Higuain has looked a shadow of the player that took Serie A by storm last term, whilst summer signing Michu has failed to live up to the hype after arriving on loan from Swansea City.

Things may get worse over in Naples if Arsenal win the race for Jose Callejon, whose goals have kept his club afloat and could be available for a fee in the region of £16 million.

Possible move?

Arbeloa has also been linked with a reunion with former Madrid manager Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, but Branislav Ivanovic cuts a difficult figure for the Portuguese to drop and the Spaniard to displace.

Manchester United’s need is greater but his loyalty to Liverpool could see the ex-Deportivo defender snub them and Barcelona’s Dani Alves arrive instead. Arbeloa’s years of experience make him a coveted asset, and if signed could help fire them to the Champions League and keep Benitez in the job at the same time.

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