Thursday 27th May 2004 


Valencia coach Rafael Benitez seems ready to leave Spain to become the next manager of Liverpool, and has revealed that the club have been in touch with his agent.

The man who guided Valencia to a Spanish League and UEFA Cup double this year played down speculation linking him with a move to Anfield yesterday, but his latest comments suggest he is keen to succeed Gerard Houllier at the Reds' helm.

"Liverpool is one of those clubs that any coach always dreams about being able to manage," Benitez is quoted as saying in the Daily Star.

"I have been at Anfield several times as a rival coach and the atmosphere is wonderful.

"They have spoken to my agent Manuel Garcia Quilun to find out more about my situation.

"I am happy in Valencia and I would only leave the club for a great European side and Liverpool are one of those."

Valencia are reportedly ready to offer their coach a two-year extension to his current contract in a bid to keep him at the Mestalla Stadium, but Benitez appears to be keeping his options open.

"I have one year on my contract remaining. Everyone knows I think Valencia is a good place to live," he said.

"When a team, coach and players win as we have in Valencia, it is inevitable other clubs focus on them and show a certain interest.

"We are in the phase of listening at the moment and that's why I have an agent."

But the ambitious boss added: "I want to have a team that can continue to battle to win titles. What I want to do at the moment is have a rest and nothing else."