Benitez non-committal on future

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has refused to commit his long-term future to the club as his contract wrangle appears to be no closer to being solved.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has refused to commit his long-term future to the club as his contract wrangle appears to be no closer to being solved.

Benitez has turned down a new deal after co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett rejected his demands for complete control of transfers.

The Americans remain confident their manager will extend his stay at Anfield beyond the 18 months remaining on his current contract but Benitez was non-committal this morning.

“I can say that I already have an agreement with one club and it is with Liverpool Football Club for one and a half years,” he said.

“I was in contact with the owners with what was my idea and I explained why. I don’t have any problems with the owners.”

Asked whether he was hopeful there could be a resolution, he replied: “Hopefully. But the first time they told me they wanted to talk about an extension I told them I wanted to do it in one week.

“To do it for two months was not my idea and I don’t want to do this so now I will finish and we will concentrate on football.”

Benitez is still furious the club failed to secure midfielder Gareth Barry from Aston Villa in the summer after they refused to match Villa’s asking price.

Club insiders say as a result the Spaniard is demanding the sort of control over spending, wages and terms and conditions that would make him the most powerful manager in the world – considerably more powerful even than the control Alex Ferguson exerts at Manchester United.

Currently, Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry has control over spending - Benitez gives him a wish-list of players but his is the final call.

Benitez wants to change that chain of command and, should there not be a resolution, there is a real danger he will walk out of the club, just as he did at Valencia in 2004.

Then, after taking the club to two league titles, he fell out with the club’s director of sport, Jesus Garcia Pitarch, over the failure to buy the players he had singled out and resigned.

Hicks expects to meet Benitez at the end of this month to discuss any outstanding issues but when asked today the manager declined to say whether contract negotiations were still ongoing.

The row threatens to overshadow Monday’s increasingly important Merseyside derby at home to Everton as, by then, Manchester United could have overtaken Liverpool at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

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