Liverpool dismiss Benitez exit rumours

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The Independent Online

Liverpool are not about to sack manager Rafael Benitez on the brink of their Champions League clash with Real Madrid.

The club have been concerned by speculation that their Spanish manager is about to leave, and sources at Anfield insist that the 48 year-old's position is safe.

Liverpool sources have felt moved to respond to claims that bookmakers have suspended betting on Benitez's future.

A source close to the club told PA Sport: "Rafa is not going to be sacked, such suggestions are ridiculous.

"We are aware of the rumours and speculation that has been buzzing around in Madrid but it is just not true."

Liverpool are also annoyed that the story has blown up on the brink of the crucial Champions League clash with Real Madrid.

The source added: "This has not bothered the manager or the team. Everything we have done since we arrived in Madrid has been spot on.

"Nobody has even mentioned this and we are surprised that such suggestions have been raised. Rafa Benitez is not about to be sacked by Liverpool."

Support for this view, enflamed by on-going contract negotiations, has come from one of Benitez's closest confidants.

Leading Spanish journalist Guillem Balague is a personal friend of Benitez and has dismissed claims the Liverpool boss is about to be axed.

On his website, Balague wrote: "There are reports that betting has been suspended on this particular market and the rumour that Benitez will be gone has spread like wildfire around the Liverpool supporters out here in Madrid and on the internet.

"If I am honest, I am not entirely comfortable indulging in these stories at the moment as there is so much misinformation being spread around that it is impossible to respond accurately to every single report or rumour.

"However, because of the number of people who are getting in touch with us, I feel I should respond.

"I can say with absolute certainty, categorically, that Rafa Benitez will not be sacked as manager of Liverpool this evening and that these rumours are not true.

"At the moment, the situation is delicate, and there have been developments with regard to the ongoing contractual negotiations at Anfield, and this is something that we will discuss later."

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