Benitez resigned to being shown the door
Rafael Benitez is resigned to losing his job after just six months in charge at Inter Milan, despite Saturday's victory in the Club World Cup.
The Italian champions' owner, Massimo Moratti, has drawn up the terms of the Spaniard's departure. A final decision is expected within 48 hours and it is believed Moratti will make an offer to Benitez that will include a lucrative golden handshake and may also include a clause preventing him from managing another club in the next six months.
The oil magnate is believed to be furious at Benitez's decision to use his side's triumph against African champions TP Mazembe in Abu Dhabi as an opportunity to demand funds for the January transfer window.
Tellingly, Moratti yesterday refused the chance to reassure the Spaniard over his future, insisting he would not be drawn on the topic for fear of "creating arguments". But while Benitez insists he "does not want to put the president under pressure", he last night appeared to reiterate his challenge to Moratti to offer him the backing he desires or end his brief spell in charge of the Italian, European and world champions.
"The president has to take a decision regarding the line we want to follow," the former Liverpool manager said. "I had spoken to him in the past about my project, which included a series of useful players immediately, as well as young players for the future. While I am here, I will work in the best possible way for the team to continue to win, but in order to win it is necessary to bring in reinforcements."
Though Benitez was keen to stress the "correct and respectful" relationship he enjoys with Moratti, it is believed the pair have clashed over the latter's failure to deliver promised transfer spending, as well as the Spaniard's unhappiness with Inter's medical staff.
Inter have suffered chronic injury troubles under Benitez's stewardship, a fact attributed by some in the dressing-room to his overzealous training methods -- the Spaniard employs far more conditioning work than his predecessor, Jose Mourinho.
However Benitez's staff blame the problems on poor prognoses offered by the club's doctors and the unacceptable physical condition of the squad when he arrived.
Benitez was also keen to see Moratti and Inter's technical director, Marco Branca, revitalise the ageing, though successful, side he inherited from Mourinho with several new signings, none of which -- other than the reserve goalkeeper Luca Castellazzi -- materialised.
Inter approached Liverpool last summer with a view to signing Dirk Kuyt and Javier Mascherano, but failed to match the Anfield club's valuation of either player, while Benitez turned down the chance to sign Giuseppe Sculli, the Genoa forward, recommended by Branca.
The Spaniard's position has been further weakened by revelations that Moratti has made contact not only with Luciano Spalletti, the former Roma manager who last month won the Russian championship with Zenit St Petersburg, but also Leonardo, the former Milan coach, with a view to replacing him.
Spalletti remains favourite, but to secure his services Inter would have to pay Zenit substantial compensation. Moratti is also known to harbour hopes of tempting Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona manager whose contract expires in June, to Italy. Fabio Capello, the England manager and one-time Inter target, is not believed to be a likely candidate.
Meanwhile, Liverpool yesterday confirmed deals to sign 16-year-olds Yousef Mercin, the Millwall goalkeeper, and Kristoffer Peterson, a Swedish striker. (© Daily Telegraph, London)