Rafael Benitez has rejected the terms of a new contract offer with the Merseyside club, the Liverpool Echo reported on Friday. Benitez explained he wanted a new deal to give him more control over football matters instead of having to answer to a chief executive.
Benitez told the Echo he had declined the offer on the table "with great regret," while insisting the issue was not financial and adding he has no complaints with the length of the proposed contract. Those details were ironed out last month.
The Spaniard insists he is on good terms with the club's American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, but they are holding out against his wish for a greater role in all matters to do with football; in particular transfer policy and running the club academy. Benitez insisted that personal relations were good, however.
"My relationship with the owners is better than people think. I have regular contact with them and especially with Tom Hicks, who has always been very supportive," Benitez insisted. "The talks between my agent and the advisers of the owners have been very positive and friendly and our differences are about my responsibilities.
"The only person who can decide the value of a player to his squad is the manager because he knows what elements are needed to improve the squad," stressed Benitez, who won a host of honours with Valencia before leading Liverpool to a thrilling 2005 UEFA Champions League triumph over AC Milan. That triumph gave Liverpool their first European crown in 21 years.
"The owners feel that the manager's decisions need to be subject to the chief executive. But I know that I am subject to results and to our fans and they are the best judges I will ever have," Benitez said.
Benitez, 48, had earlier indicated that "we have agreed the length of contract and we have agreed the salary" but still had to reach agreement on "my role and my responsibilities as manager of the club." Details of the length of the contract and the salary offered to the Liverpool manager have not been announced.
The Liverpool boss, whose current contract runs up until 2010, has been confined to the stands since surgery for kidney stones and will shortly undergo a third operation. He is due to enter hospital for surgery on Wednesday but hopes to be back in time for league and FA Cup derbies against Everton. Assistant Sammy Lee takes charge in his absence.