Parry: Benitez very close to new deal

Rafael Benitez is “very close” to sealing a new contract extension with Liverpool, according to chief executive Rick Parry.

Rafael Benitez is “very close” to sealing a new contract extension with Liverpool, according to chief executive Rick Parry.

The Spaniard has been Reds boss for four-and-a-half years – during which time he has won the Champions League – and has 18 months of his current deal still to run.

Benitez has told his club’s American owners he is looking for a contract which will allow him to be part of the “long-term future” of the Merseyside club and wants assurances over boardroom stability.

Liverpool top the Premier League heading into this afternoon’s clash with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium – a match which Benitez may be forced to miss as he recovers from surgery to remove kidney stones.

Nevertheless, an announcement on his future could be made shortly.

Parry told BBC Radio 5 Live’s 'Sportsweek' programme: “He is nearly there.

“The owners have made a commitment and said they wanted to extend and keep him. Clearly he wants to stay, so yes it will be done.

“We have had a few hold-ups this week with his unfortunate illness.

“That has slightly got in the way, but it won’t be very long now. I cannot be specific, but it is very close now.”

Benitez has often clashed with the owners over transfer policy, most notably during the on-off Gareth Barry saga last summer.

Parry hinted there may be little movement in terms of new arrivals at Anfield when the transfer window opens again next month.

“It is difficult to do smart business in January,” he said.

“Teams still in the Champions League certainly are not going to sell, and it takes time to settle players in.

“Ideally you do your business in the summer, so your players can have a whole pre-season with you rather than playing catch up. But we will see.

“I really do not think we will be doing a great deal of business in January. We have got the squad.”

With star striker Fernando Torres currently sidelined by a hamstring problem, much more responsibility for leading the line has been put on Robbie Keane.

The Republic of Ireland front man has not really yet hit top form since his £20.3m move from Tottenham.

Parry, though, maintains off-loading Keane is not on the agenda.

“He is a great player with a fantastic track record,” he said.

“Maybe it has taken him a little bit longer than both he and we would have anticipated for him to settle in, but I can still see that corner being turned with ease.

“I can’t see it [Keane being sold]. You can never say never in football, because you never know what the next month or year will hold.

“But as I see it, he will not be going anywhere. He is certainly a Liverpool player for the foreseeable future.”

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