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By ESPN Staff

Levy expects apology

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy expects Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez to withdraw his comments which have dragged the two clubs into an unsavoury public row over England striker Jermain Defoe.

Benitez's claim that Spurs were desperate to sell Defoe, made during Liverpool's pre-match press conference for their match against Merseyside rivals Everton, forced Levy to issue an angry denial and accuse the Reds of trying to unsettle the player.

The Liverpool coach's outburst was the culmination of feverish speculation involving Tottenham's alleged interest in striker Djibril Cisse.

Rumours Spurs would be prepared to sell Defoe to Liverpool in the summer for £15million and take Cisse as part of the deal have been rife for some months.

That rumour was given fresh impetus by Cisse's agent this week when he claimed Spurs had made a move to sign his client on the final day of the January transfer deadline - a claim rejected first by Spurs coach Martin Jol and subsequently by Levy.

All the speculation was heightened further by Defoe's intermittent absence from the Spurs first team.

But if Benitez really harboured any intentions of signing the striker it would have been wise to have remained silent instead of claiming the Londoners wanted to offload him.

'I should expect that Mr Benitez on reflection, withdraws his wholly inappropriate, unprofessional and inaccurate comments,' said Levy.

'They do him no credit. I find them beyond belief. Not only are they completely untrue but it is unprecedented that any manager should comment in this way on another team's player.

'It could in fact be interpreted as a direct and blatant attempt to unsettle Jermain.

'There is absolutely no basis, let alone any element of truth whatsoever, in Benitez's claim that we are looking to sell Jermain.

'We have not had a single conversation on this point with Liverpool or any other club so I fail to see how he can make this statement.'

Jol had already made it clear Cisse was not on their target list this summer - and the same could be said for Manchester United's Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, while Levy added Louis Saha to the list.

'Additionally, for the avoidance of all doubt, we have previously said and I repeat, we have absolutely no intention of making an offer for Cisse or Saha,' said the chairman.

'On all these issues I resent having to put the record straight when it should never have been put into question.'