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Baxter hoping Khune brings the magic

South Africa

Benitez wants swift end to contract talks

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has made it clear that he wants his contract negotiations sorted out by the summer and has denied that the reason they have stalled is because of his desire for total control over transfers.

The Spaniard's deal runs out in the summer of 2010 and he believes the continued uncertainty over his future, and those of several members of the Anfield backroom staff, is hampering the club's long-term planning.

''Anyone that has just a year left on his contract does not have anything at all and I have only got a year and a half left,'' Benitez told The Guardian. ''When people, either within the club or from outside it, realise that the manager only has that much time left then he is dead.

''I've got 10 or 12 assistants whose contracts are up in June. How can a manager lead a project properly if the continuity of his staff is not secure for two or three years?''

One of the reputed stumbling blocks to Benitez's contract negotiations has been his alleged insistence that he is given a free rein on transfers, where chief executive Rick Parry currently takes charge.

But he added: ''I would like to clear one thing up - I never asked for complete control.

''I did, however, ask for the power to be able to make my own decisions and run the team the way I see fit. That is not the same thing.''

When Benitez's time on Merseyside does come to an end, he admits it would be a privilege to take charge of Real Madrid, where he was coach of the youth teams earlier in his career.

''I am not thinking about leaving and I hope to be here for a long time but of course Real Madrid would be the perfect ending to anyone's career,'' he said. ''But my career is not at an end yet.''

Benitez has also has challenged Emiliano Insua to again stake his claim for the left-back spot at Liverpool.

Insua made four consecutive starts over the festive period after both Fabio Aurelio and Andrea Dossena were struck by injury.

But the 20-year-old's first-team run was halted by a call-up for Argentina in the South American Under-20 Championships in early January.

''He was playing really well before he went away,'' Benitez told the Daily Post. ''He played a few games for us and did a good job.

''He has played a lot of football with his country, but some games were at left-back and others at centre-back.

''Defenders don't run as far when they play in the middle, so we'll have to have a look at him when he gets back to see if he needs a little break.''

''It's good to have him back, though. At this stage of the season the more players you have competing for positions in the team the better the situation is.''


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