Liverpool winger Albert Riera has further fuelled flames of his public falling out with Rafael Benitez by suggesting that his manager has “something personal” against him.
Riera, desperate for playing time in order to make the Spain World Cup squad this summer, was suspended by Liverpool until Monday following his criticism of Benitez.
Riera has fallen out of favour at Liverpool this season, starting just nine Premier League games and three cup matches.
The 27-year-old, who last played for Spain in October’s qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina, said: “I do not want to make trouble with the manager. I am not interested in making Rafa my enemy in the slightest, quite the opposite, but ultimately it is about playing and, if I am not, we have to talk about why not.
“We have not had any talk about why it is. I played all of last year, and sometimes if I did not play so well in one game, I would still play the next week. But this season I have not played at all.
“When that starts happening, you have to assume it is something personal rather than professional.
“I believe in these situations it is better to talk about it and try to fix it, or at least make sure everyone knows where they stand. I have no problem talking to people. I am delighted to play for Liverpool and, if I was playing, I would love to stay, because it is a brilliant place to play football.
“But if I am not playing I have no chance of going to the World Cup, so I am trying to solve the problem so I at least have a small chance.”
Benitez was remaining tight-lipped over the controversy after Thursday’s Europa League win over Lille.
“The timing was not the best for the team and we will deal with this internally,” was all Benitez would say.