Rafael Benitez flattered by Juventus interest

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Rafael BenitezLiverpool boss says he is 'proud' of the link, but his focus is on Liverpool

Rafael Benitez

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez yesterday fuelled speculation that he could be leaving Anfield in the summer after Juventus sacked Ciro Ferrara and appointed Alberto Zaccheroni as a short term replacement.

The Serie A club are expected to appoint a new permanent manager at the end of the season and the Spaniard is rumoured to be their top target.

When interrogated over the matter on Friday, Benitez rejected any suggestion of an imminent move to Italy. However he did acknowledge their interest and admitted feeling ‘proud’ of being linked to the Turin club.

Benitez signed a new contract at Anfield in March 2009, but Liverpool’s form has stuttered this season as the Reds continue to struggle in the League. The Spanish manager has come under fire from the media for some suspect tactical decisions.

It has been suggested that the Benitez is waiting to see if the Liverpool owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, can unearth potential investors which would subsequently increase the manager’s transfer budget.

Should the Americans fail to succeed in this quest then Benitez could be tempted by a move to Italy.

“I know they [Juventus] were interested,” said Benitez on Friday. “That is part of the game now in football but I don’t want to lose my focus.

“When you have clubs asking about you then you have to be proud. It is a big club, one of the top clubs in Europe, but I am really pleased and happy to be here.”

“We are working very hard in the conditions that we have at this moment,” added the Spaniard. “We have some money we did not have before because we sold some players.

“I think we have a new investor or maybe more people coming this year, and the possibility of a new stadium is a big boost for everyone here so all these things are on the agenda. We have to trust and believe they will happen.”

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