February - 2009

2202: Benitez ready to walk out on Liverpool
0602: Reds eye Barca wonderkid



Benitez ready to walk
out on Liverpool

By Simon Mullock -

Rafa Benitez is threatening to quit Liverpool at the end of the season - after a stunning decision to reject a fourth contract offer.

Anfield co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett expected Benitez to sign a new deal on Friday that would keep him at the club until 2013 - as revealed by Sunday Mirror Sport.

Talks were concluded on Thursday with both Americans convinced the concessions they had granted over transfer policy, player and staff contracts and the club's academy had finally gained Benitez's approval after almost a year of wrangling.

But less than 24 hours later the two owners were left "shocked and confused" by the Spaniard's latest refusal to put pen to paper.

Benitez, 48, has made it clear he is unwilling to commit to a deal while Gillett and chief executive Rick Parry remain at Liverpool and doubts about the long-term ownership of the club persist.

And while he has another season left on his contract, it is now likely he will leave at the end of the current campaign.

Benitez rejected an offer from Real Madrid to become their coach in December, the second time he had resisted overtures from them. But the power struggle that has gripped Anfield for 18 months could open the door for a return to the club he served as a coach.

Benitez feels the crumbling relationship between the two Americans makes it impossible for him to do his job.

A source close to Benitez said: "It has been claimed that Rafa wants full power on transfers, contracts and the academy, but what he really wants is everyone at the club pulling in the same direction.

"The club are missing out on transfer targets and that contracts for players and staff are not being done because things move too slowly. Rafa had transfer targets lined up in January.

When he missed out on those because of how the club functions he realised it could not continue. He has told the owners it would be impossible for him to work another four years under these conditions."

Liverpool's owners have been stunned by Benitez's latest rejection and it seems his tenure will continue next season only if a buyer can be found for Gillett's stake.

Reds eye Barca wonderkid

By Francisco Acedo - Sky Sports

Liverpool are planning a move to lure Barcelona wonderkid Gerard Deulofeu away from Camp Nou to Anfield.

Deulofeu is regarded as one of the best young prospects in European football and scouts from a host of clubs have been tracking his progress.

Chelsea and Arsenal have both been strongly linked with the 14-year-old, but Liverpool are hoping to steal a march on their rivals by bringing him to Merseyside.

Liverpool scout Paco de Gracia has recommended the youngster to Reds boss Rafa Benitez as they look to pull off a similar coup to that which saw Daniel Pacheco make the move from Barcelona to Anfield.

Reports emanating from Spain claim are now ready to firm up their interest in Deulofeu by making an offer for his services.

Thor Zakariassen