It would seem that the soap story at Anfield has taken another twist, after Juventus confirmed that Rafael Benitez is their number one target to take over from the embattled Ciro Ferrara, and wood was definitely thrown on the fire after Rafa's agent suggested the move could happen...
Following Juve's 2-0 defeat to Claudio Ranieri's Roma at the weekend, Jean Claude Blanc, Juventus' President, is expected to wield the axe on Ferrara. Pressure has been mounting on the Italian after Juve made an embarrassing early exit from the Champions League and the loss to Roma seems to be the final straw for the club.
The ironic thing is that Ranieri was sacked from Juve so Ferrara could be brought in, while their chief target Benitez also oversaw an embarrassing exit for this seasons Champions League for Liverpool.
At Liverpool, pressure has been mounting following the worst run of results at the club in decades. Only seven wins in their last 22 games, early exits for the Champions League, the Carling Cup, and the FA Cup, added to a title bid that was over by October mean that Rafa's job is on the line.
He has made a guarantee to the clubs fans that he will deliver fourth place at the least, and his job now depends on that promise.
The news that Juve are interested in the Spaniard will be music to some fans ears but will be the a real needle in the eye for the many Rafaelites who have backed their manager through thick and thin.
His agents ill judged comments will come as a real blow to those who have been most vocal in their support.
"Benitez to Juventus? In football you never know," Quillon said. "Right now, that hypothesis is not correct because he is a very important figure (at Anfield). The idols of the fans are Gerrard, Torres, and Benitez.
"I don't know what will happen in four to five months. In football everything changes quickly, but the basic principle is that Rafa still has a four-year contract."The move will be financed by John Elkan, Juve's vice president, and heir to the Fiat empire. He believes that Rafa would be interested in the terms they could offer him, £3million a year after tax. As it stands, Rafa receives the same amount from Liverpool but has to pay 50 percent of it through tax, leaving him with £1.5million.
Could Rafa be tempted by Juve's offer? Most definitely. Juventus are one of the few clubs that can compete in Europe as well as domestically and the financial package would be very lucrative to say the least.
It is, however unlikely that Benitez will leave before the summer, but with fourth place looking increasingly impossible, the news that Juve have offered Giovani Trappatoni a six month deal to look after the team until their target arrives may suggest that a deal for a new manager is in the pipework.
Is it Rafa? Remains to be seen...
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