Wednesday 20 September 2017

Reds won't stop Rafa Juve move

Sam Wallace

The attitude of the Liverpool hierarchy towards Rafa Benitez is that they will not stand in his way if an offer from Juventus is put to their Spanish manager, but both parties regard that situation as still a long way off.

The pressure has been building this week, with more leaks from Italy suggesting that Benitez, who has four years left to run on his Liverpool contract, will be the subject of a £16m, four-year deal from the Italian club.

While the Italians are not yet near to putting a formal request to Liverpool, there is the sense that the move will speed up over the next few weeks.

Senior figures at Liverpool have indicated that -- unlike in the past, when Benitez has parlayed his popularity with the fans into improved contracts and greater influence at the club -- this will not be the case should Juventus' offer turn out to be genuine.

Benitez was in a much stronger position in March last year when he signed his existing deal at Liverpool -- a four-year extension to 2014. With the club's American co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks desperate to keep some semblance of stability to attract potential buyers, Benitez was regarded as untouchable 11 months ago.

His agent, Manuel Garcia Quilon, is considered by the club as a prime mover in the attempts to broker an agreement with Juventus, although not everyone in English football is really convinced that they have the resources to complete the deal. However, Juve president Jean-Claude Blanc would push for a quick answer should the club put together an acceptable deal.

Benitez is still planning for next season with Liverpool, having expressed an interest in Rafael van der Vaart of Real Madrid. Any approach from Juventus would have to wait until after Benitez's team play Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-final second leg tomorrow.

Liverpool play Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday in a game likely to decide whether the London club or Manchester United will win the title. (© Independent News Service)

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