Valencia in talks to stop Benitez Liverpool move

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The Independent Online

Valencia have opened contract negotiations with their coach Rafael Benitez after his name was linked with the vacant Liverpool manager's job.

Valencia have opened contract negotiations with their coach Rafael Benitez after his name was linked with the vacant Liverpool manager's job.

Benitez's deal expires at the end of next season and Valencia, who this season swept to the Spanish league title as well as the Uefa Cup, have become alarmed at the increasing speculation and are keen for him to remain until 2007.

But his agent, Manuel Garcia Quilon, remained guarded after a meeting in Madrid with Valencia director general Manuel Lorente. "We spoke to the director but there is nothing to say," Quilon said. "We have neither advanced nor backed down. Now it is up to Benitez."

The Portsmouth striker Ivica Mornar faces criminal charges over allegations that he has a false passport. The Croatia international, who joined Portsmouth from Anderlecht, will have to face a Belgian court and may be deported from Britain if he is found guilty. Mornar and the Serbia and Montenegro defender Ivica Dragutinovic, who plays for Standard Liège, also in Belgium, will be prosecuted on suspicion of making a false application for Belgian citizenship.

A spokeswoman for the Antwerp public prosecutor's office said a grand jury referred Mornar, 30, and Dragutinovic, 29, to a correctional court "under suspicion of forgery".

If Mornar is found guilty he may not be allowed to stay at Portsmouth or could be forced to apply for a work permit.

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