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Feb 25, 2009

Liverpool brand Benitez exit talk as "ridiculous"

Liverpool have denied rumours that Rafael Benitez is on the brink of leaving the club. Earlier on Wednesday, Britain's top bookmakers suspended betting on Rafael Benitez's future at the club after huge sums of money were placed on him being the next Premier League manager to lose his job. But Liverpool have now come out and insisted the stores are "ridiculous" and Benitez was going nowhere. It had even been claimed the manager could be ousted before the trip to Middlesbrough on Saturday. A source close to the club said: "Rafa is not going to be sacked, such suggestions are ridiculous. "We are aware of the rumours and speculation that has been buzzing around in Madrid but it is just not true. "This has not bothered the manager or the team. Everything we have done since we arrived in Madrid has been spot on. "Nobody has even mentioned this and we are surprised that such suggestions have been raised. Rafa Benitez is not about to be sacked by Liverpool.''

Both Skybet and William Hill had taken large sums of money on the Spanish manager to depart since Tuesday evening forcing them to stop taking bets.

William Hill reported that they were forced to drop the odds on Benitez being the next Premier League manager to leave his job, either sacked or through resignation, from 20/1 into even money before they suspended the market. And Skybet saw a flurry of bets on Benitez not to be at Anfield at the start of the 2009-10 season before reinstating that market at odds of 1/4.

The odds on former boss Kenny Dalglish returning as their next manager have been shortened to 3/1.

Fans may question the timing with Liverpool at the Bernabeu. Real have been strongly linked with Benitez for some time and with his Anfield contract wrangle no nearer a conclusion the rumours are sure to intensify.

Benitez has been in discussions over a new contract on Merseyside for months but has failed to reach an agreement with his current deal running out next summer. It was reported at the weekend that the 48-year-old has rejected four separate drafts of the contract.

Benitez dodged questions about his future during Tuesday's press conference in Madrid.

The main sticking points have surrounded control of transfers and the club's Academy, with Benitez wanting full responsibility for the direction the club is taking.

It appears owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks are reluctant to rubber stamp a move which would marginalise the position of chief executive Rick Parry.

Benitez is a hugely popular figure among Liverpool fans and his departure would cause great anger, no matter what the circumstances, though at present there is no concrete evidence that Benitez will walk away from Anfield.

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