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Rafa - wants talks with new owners


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Benítez keen to clarify strategy with Liverpool's new owners



Dominic Fifield

Thursday March 15, 2007

The Guardian



Tom Hicks and George Gillett are on the verge of securing complete control of Liverpool after accumulating 94.4% of the club's shares, but any celebrations may have been dampened by indications from Rafael Benítez that he is seeking talks to clarify their vision.

The manager remains committed to the club but his publicly expressed intention to meet the Americans is disconcerting, given Real Madrid's apparent desire to lure the Spaniard back to his home city. Liverpool rejected an approach from them last year, with Benítez subsequently signing a new long-term contract, but Real's interest in him remains. That is unsettling on Merseyside, even if Real are aware that Benítez's instinct is to remain.


Real's interest does offer Benítez a position of strength from which to negotiate, however, and he will do so with Hicks and Gillett when they return to England on March 31. "There are always a lot of rumours and a lot of people have been talking about Madrid," said the manager. "I have read in some papers I've had a meeting with people from Madrid. This is not true. I'm very happy at Liverpool. I couldn't have more support, but now we have new people taking over and it's important I talk to the American owners.

"I have spoken to them once, when they first came to the club, but now I would like to see them as soon as possible and talk about the future. I don't just want to talk about money to spend on players. I would like to hear about the plans which will improve the club."


Gillett and Hicks will attempt to convince Benítez that they have the means and intention to pour resources into long-term planning with special emphasis on youth recruitment, an area where the manager feels Liverpool have fallen behind. The Americans are also exploring ways of increasing the proposed 60,000 capacity of the new Stanley Park stadium and have ordered a review, which could delay the start of work.




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