Rafa agent denies sack reports
Rafa Benitez has denied a report in Gazzetta dello Sport that Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti has decided to end the Spaniard's reign at the San Siro.
Under the headline "Benitez e' fuori!" ("Benitez is out!"), the newspaper details how the Spaniard will lose his job despite leading Inter to success in the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Benitez was under intense pressure heading into the competition given Inter are 13 points behind rivals and Serie A leaders Milan, and following a 3-0 victory over TP Mazembe, Benitez invited more scrutiny when issuing an ultimatum to Moratti.
The Nerazzurri coach said, via the media, that Moratti had to back him with new signings, carry on "without planning" or terminate his contract. According to Gazzetta, Moratti had opted for the third of those options.
However, Benitez, who is currently in Liverpool, told Spanish radio station Onda Cero: "I have not been sacked. Many people that read the newspapers today have called me up to ask me if I had been dismissed. It's not true, I am surprised that it has been reported as a done thing.
"I am currently on holiday to rest and then to begin again. For months I have heard and read things that are not true.''
The Spaniard's rant following Inter's win on Saturday was not welcomed by Moratti but Benitez defended his position and even re-emphasised his desire for financial backing.
"The president, with whom I had spoken prior to that press conference, had already left Abu Dhabi, and the only possibility was to publicly say something which was evident,'' said Benitez.
"I don't want to put the president under pressure, but I had spoken to him in the past about my project. My project was to include a series of useful players immediately as well as young players for the future. Moratti, with whom I have a correct and respectful relationship, liked it.
"The president has to take a decision regarding the line we want to follow. While I am here I will work in the best possible way in order for the team to continue to win. But in order to win and to do well it is necessary to bring in reinforcements.
"Injuries have hindered us and I don't want this to happen again. The transfer market begins soon and hence, this is the time to speak openly about acquisitions.''
When asked for his reaction to Benitez's original comments on Sunday, Inter chief Moratti said: "They were a bit out of place, perhaps, but they haven't spoiled anything for now: at the moment anyone who loves Inter is happy. I'm not going to talk about Benitez now."
Moratti was also questioned about Benitez's position by reporters on Monday morning , but remained tight-lipped. He said: "I will not speak today. I do not wish to create any controversies with anyone."
Benitez has been backed by Renzo Ulivieri, the head of the Italian Coaches' Association, who feels the Spaniard was correct to issue his ultimatum.
"Benitez has always been calm and civil," Ulivieri told La Repubblica. "He has my support but he doesn't need it because he can stand on his own two feet, he is a world club champion.
"If he asks for respect it's because obviously he has been lacking it. He has only asked for normal things."
According to Gazzetta, the leading contender to replace Benitez would be former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti, who led Zenit St Petersburg to the Russian title this season. Ex-Milan coach Leonardo is also believed to be under consideration.