Benitez victorious as he signs new Liverpool deal

Spanish manager agrees five-year contract to end stand-off with owners

Rafael Benitez committed himself to Liverpool for the long-term last night, signing a new five-year contract which represents a victory in his battle to wield greater power at the club.

The Spaniard has been at odds since January with the club's owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, demanding greater control over football issues including his transfer budget and the club's Academy. Benitez will by no means secure carte blanche to spend without his board's sanction. "Transfers will still be handled by the new CEO and owners, based on Rafa's recommendations," one executive familiar with the contract talks said last night. But the balance of power has clearly swung towards him and away from the chief executive's office – where incumbent Rick Parry's departure was announced last month. The exit of Parry may have helped secure 48-year-old Benitez's signature on a deal worth over £4m a year which should keep him at Anfield until June 2014 and extend his career at the club to a decade, should he see it out.

"My heart is with Liverpool Football Club, so I'm delighted to sign this new deal," said Benitez, who arrived from Valencia in the summer of 2004. "I love the club, the fans and the city and with a club like this and supporters like this, I could never say no to staying. I always made clear I wanted to be here for a long time and when I complete my new contract it will mean I have spent over a decade in Liverpool. The club is greatly respected around the world due to its incredible history and tremendous heritage. It is my aim to uphold those values and help create a new chapter in our history."

Though Hicks and Gillett believe in a chief executive holding the kind of powers David Gill enjoys at Manchester United, they were persuaded by Randy Lerner at Aston Villa that a deal allowing Benitez similar control to Martin O'Neill could work.

Amid the threat of Real Madrid seeking Benitez this summer, the Americans needed to retain a world-renowned manager to maintain the optimum financial value of a club for whom they seek investors. Hence a salary which takes Benitez from his current £3m-a-year wage to something like the figures commanded by Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger.

It is an outcome which seemed highly unlikely in October 2007 when Hicks and Gillett, antagonised by Benitez's response to their demands that he work through Parry and dubious about his capabilities, sought out Jürgen Klinsmann as a possible successor. Hicks has since had a rapprochement with Benitez but the relationships with Parry and Benitez were damaged fatally.

Parry's announced departure does not seem to have lifted Benitez's mood of late. Even 10 days ago, before the home leg of Liverpool's Champions League tie with Real Madrid, he did not seem to be in high spirits and he is yet to express much pleasure at the prospect of working with a new chief executive. But the wins over Real and Manchester United have since cemented Benitez as the most serious challenger to Ferguson since Jose Mourinho's star began to wane. The new contract also paves the way to new deals for Daniel Agger, Dirk Kuyt, Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Aurelio, whose own contract talks had been on hold pending uncertainties about the manager's future being resolved.

Benitez hinted on the day Parry announced his departure that a new deal was dependent on him being granted the security of knowing who the future owners of the club might be. That appeared to be an impossible request, considering the uncertainty still surrounding the finances of the club and the Americans' as-yet putative search for buyers in the Middle East. Some assurances may have been given but Benitez, who has always insisted that the length of the contract and remuneration were not issues, appears to have concluded that the departure of Parry, bringing him the kind of autonomy he has been looking for, is enough.

Hicks, who has been actively courting a consortium including the Kuwaiti Al-Kharafi family to secure new invest in the club, said last night: "It is wonderful news that Rafa has made a long-term commitment to the football club. He has been responsible for the great progress we have made. I know he will continue to build on his achievements as he has a tremendous hunger and desire to bring more success to the club – success our fans and everyone connected with the club deserves."

Gillett, the more likely of the American pair to sell up, added: "With Rafa continuing to manage the team, we can look forward to more great football and success on the pitch. He has special abilities and qualities which are admired here at the club and around the world. Coming after our excellent wins over Real Madrid and Manchester United, this gives us great momentum going into the final stages of the season."

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial