The intrigue surrounding Juventus' interest in Rafael Benitez deepened last night with sources in Italy suggesting that the Turin side have seen the Liverpool manager's contract and have drawn up a new one with a €3m (£2.6m) salary, which they believe might be enough to attract him.
Benitez earns £4.6m gross a year at Liverpool but Juventus believe that the nature of the Italian tax system would enable them to pay him €3m and pay his tax themselves. One of the fears at Juventus is that Benitez would want to bring a sizeable and expensive backroom staff with him, if attracted to the Stadio Olimpico. But the Turin side have been led to believe that only two staff would move with him from Anfield – Benitez's assistant Mauricio Pellegrino and his goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero – and that Benitez would accept an Italian assistant coach in any future regime, an issue of deep significance to the club.
Benitez's agent Manuel Garcia Quilon did not dismiss the Benitez-Juventus link on Monday though he insisted on Tuesday that the Spaniard wanted to stay at Liverpool and with Benitez aware that his future will come under review this summer, there are grounds for viewing the speculation being fuelled in Italy as deliberate machinations to bolster his Anfield position. Juventus incumbent Ciro Ferrera is on the brink of dismissal, though as of last night he was still in situ for the club's Coppa Italia tie with Internazionale.
The Liverpool manager was not willing to discuss the issue after the dismal goalless draw at Wolves on Tuesday night and though the reticence was typical of him, it hardly created the spirit of unity which the club need as they attempt to build from a position of "hurt" – as captain Steven Gerrard described their current predicament yesterday in the light of that result.
Gerrard has said ahead of Saturday's home match with Bolton that Liverpool need maximum points from that fixture and the following weekend's game at home to Everton. "We believe we've turned the corner," Gerrard said. "We've got two home games coming up and if we can take maximum points, we'll be closer to where we want to be. There are a lot of people in the dressing room who are hurt at seeing us lying in seventh and eighth position and you learn a lot from these situations when times are hard."
There was little to draw much encouragement from in the game at Molineux though four clean sheets from five is something and Sotorios Kyrgiakos is a player who has defied his critics in the past two games. Failing to keep clean sheets is "where we were going wrong," Gerrard said. "That's why we found ourselves seventh and eighth in the table because we were conceding too many goals. We weren't getting the results, but we know if we defend well as a base and keep clean sheets we'll win more than we lose."
Dynamo Moscow want to attract Yossi Benayoun from Liverpool and there has been contact with Anfield from the Russians, though the club are not willing to sell one of their most creative players. Benayoun is current out of the side with a rib injury.