Rafael Benitez’s position at Liverpool is again the source of much speculation after bookmakers suspend betting on him leaving the club.
The news comes hours before his team take on Real Madrid in the last-16 of the Champions League in the Bernabeu with rumours in the Spanish capital suggesting the Liverpool manager is posed to leave Anfield.
The Spaniard has been locked in talks over a new contract in recent months and surprised the club’s hierarchy by rejecting a fifth draft of the deal over the weekend. Benitez has less than 18 months left on his current contract at Anfield and believes that if he reaches the end of the season without a commitment from Tom Hicks and George Gillett, the Liverpool owners, he will be forced to look for a new job.
The owners have bowed to his requests for more control over transfer policy and the youth academy, however, several sticking points remain about the job security of his backroom staff and his concern at the delays in the decision-making process.
Benitez began his career in coaching at the Bernabeu in 1986 and the Liverpool manager has been linked with a return to Madrid, where Juande Ramos is the current incumbent.
Speculation has suggested that Kenny Dalglish, the former manager, has been approached to act in a caretaker capacity in the event of Benitez leaving, but the Scot remains a strong supporter of the Spaniard.
Rupert Adams, a spokesman for William Hill, said: “We are slightly jumpy after being turned over by the recent Weymouth coup but the level of interest on Rafa getting the sack is unprecedented with over 300 calls logged today alone.
“We would be very surprised if he is still the Liverpool boss by midnight on Sunday.”