Benitez hits out over contract claims

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Rafael Benitez's ongoing contract talks have overshadowed Liverpool's final Champions League Group D game against PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday night.

Claims that he has been demanding a massive pay-rise have been angrily rejected by the Liverpool boss, who claims he is more concerned with seeing Robbie Keane prove he is worth the £20million price tag while ensuring Liverpool finish top of their group ahead of Atletico Madrid.

"We want to be top of the group, if only to ensure that we are at home in the second leg of the first knock-out stage match in the next round," said Benitez. "It is debatable whether it is important to finish first or second, because you can come up against some very good sides in the next phase who have finished second in their group."

He added: "But as a club we always want to win. And that is the aim now. I will probably utilise the squad more, and I have left Dirk Kuyt at home to give him a rest.

"There is a very small injury problem, but I want him to have a rest after playing so many games this season."

But it is Benitez's new contract talks which have grabbed the spotlight, amid claims that he has demanded parity with Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Benitez is furious that his contract talks are being depicted as money-orientated.

He claims he instructed his agent, holding talks with owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett over a new deal to replace his current contract which runs out in 18 months, not to talk about money first.

"I am surprised that I have seen that I was demanding more money. That is not true," added Benitez. "I told my agent when he went into the talks to not talk about money, the question was about the length of the contract, and after that it was my role. The last question was about the money.

"So when you see things said (about money), it means people are either not telling the truth or that people have very bad information or they want to create a mess. I was very disappointed with this. I say again, it is not true. I was not asking for anything, just telling my advisors to go to the meeting and hear what they (the owners) want. The owners were talking about an extension."

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Robbie Keane
European News
Dirk Kuyt

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