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Nov 7, 2008

Benitez to be rewarded with new Pool contract

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is on the verge of signing a new contract with the Premier League club and joked he would even be pleased to pen a "20-year contract".

The Spaniard is to be rewarded for the club's fine start to the season and will meet with owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks in the next week to begin discussions.

In the past there has been speculation over his future due to the frosty triangle between Benitez, Gillett and Hicks but that now appears to be over as the parties are ready to thrash out a new deal.

With Liverpool only behind Chelsea in the table on goal difference and on the verge of booking a place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League the Reds are well set for an assault on all fronts this term. Benitez current deal is due to expire at the end of next season and the club's progress has led Gillett and Hicks to come to the table.

"I received a phone call from Tom Hicks on behalf of George Gillett also. They are talking about a meeting with my advisors [about] a contract extension. This is very positive news,'' he told the club's website.

"We decided to meet in the next week and now my advisors are in contact with them. We haven't spoken about the length of the contract but we talked and we all want to find a solution as soon as possible.

"For me it's easy. I want to stay here - I am where I want to be. It's very simple. My family and I know how good the fans have been with us. The club is going forward and we have the new stadium project. There are a lot of positive things.

"I want to stay here for a long time. Clearly I would like to be here when the new stadium opens. The other day I was joking that if they offered me a 20-year contract I'd be really pleased.

"The team is in a very good position, so if I do not have to talk about my contract from now on it will be perfect. The last two or three press conferences I have been asked and asked, so the stability is really important.

"The owners know we are doing well. The atmosphere is really good, we are at the top of the league and our Champions League group. The team is playing well.

"My idea is to do it as soon as possible. I would like to see it signed before the end of the month if that is possible. They have to talk to my agent about the conditions of the deal, but clearly the length of the contract is crucial.

"If I can stay here for a long time I would be very pleased. It is rare to see managers at clubs for a long time, but that would be the right way. Stability is the key to winning trophies and being contenders for the title.''

Asked about a five-year contract, Benitez added: "Clearly that would be very good, I would like to be here for a very long time. I do not want to keep talking about my contract. It is not good for the team and it is not good for the club. We are in a good position that could be good for the future, so I want this contract concluded quickly.

"We have been improving the squad for five years so in the future we can be contenders and we can win more trophies. The team is very strong, you can see the progress. There is a new stadium soon and I want to be part of the future of Liverpool.''

Gillett and Hicks are known to be delighted with the team's form so far this term and a statement on behalf of the pair said: "Rafa continues to do a great job, we are really pleased with the progress of the team and we look forward to talking to him and his advisors about extending his contract.''

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