Rafael Benitez has rejected a proposed new contract from Liverpool and warned the club that he will not sign a new deal unless he is given full control of transfer policy.
But the club’s US owners moved quickly to reassure fans that the current impasse in negotiations over Benitez’s future would not lead to the Spaniard leaving Anfield when his current contract expires at the end of next season.
Benitez said it was “with great regret” that he had decided to reject the draft contract presented to him by the Americans, Tom Hicks and George Gillet.
Benitez, 48, said he had no problems with the financial terms on offer or the length of the deal, but revealed that he was unhappy with being required to answer to Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry over the buying and selling of players.
“The owners feel that the manager’s decisions need to be subject to the chief executive,” Benitez told local newspaper the Liverpool Echo. “But I know that I am subject to results and to our fans and they are the best judges I will ever have.”
The Spaniard is also holding out for a greater say in the running of the club’s academy.
With Liverpool currently sitting at the top of the Premier League table, Benitez is negotiating from a position of strength and Hicks was anxious to play down the differences between the owners and the manager.
“I will be working with Rafa to get this resolved — and I am just not worried about it at all,” Hicks said. “Rafa is going to be coach of Liverpool for the next five years and we will work through all this.”
Benitez has been at Liverpool since 2004. He guided them to a Champions League triumph in his first season in charge and, despite being regularly linked with every major managerial vacancy in Spain, has repeatedly stated that he wants to stay in Liverpool.
Hicks said he expected to meet Benitez at the end of this month to seek a resolution of the contract dispute.