Rafa says he’s staying at Anfield

Talk in the press over the weekend that Rafa Benitez would soon be going to Germany was soon quickly dismissed today by Rafael Benitez. The German side are looking for their next coach and Rafa Benitez was a name mentioned in reports. But even if they want him – and nobody says they do – they can’t have him, says the Spaniard.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Rafa explained that although flattered, he was happy at Anfield: “I heard about the rumours at the weekend,” he said, “and it is always flattering to be linked with other big clubs because it must mean you are doing something right, but even if I was approached I would tell whichever club it was that I am really happy with my club, my squad, my supporters and my city.”

These links surface regularly, but Rafa has a long-term plan in mind for the Reds, and he’s for from finished with it: “There are still many things which I want to do here so I am planning on being here for a long time.”

His long-term assistant Paco Ayestaran could be in a new club soon. Rafa and he had a difference of opinion earlier in the season which saw Paco leave his post. Liverpool have actually put him on gardening leave rather than allow him to join a rival club immediately, but now according to reports in Spain he’s being lined up by three different clubs – Barcelona, Valencia and Real Sociedad. Barcelona are third in the table, which as ever seems to be causing panic, and the reports claim that they feel they are in desperate need of a fitness coach. It’s a similar role that Valencia need to fill to assist coach Ronald Koeman. Meanwhile Sociedad are about to be taken over by a Hong Kong investment group and it’s reported that Paco would be their choice as Sporting Director.

Former Liverpool midfielder and reserve coach Sammy Lee was with Rafael Benitez at the Halliwell Jones stadium recently for a Liverpool reserve game, prompting more speculation that he’ll be back at Anfield soon as Rafa’s new assistant.