Friday, March 20, 2009

Rafa to be given £30m transfer kitty

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has been handed a £30m war chest along with his new five-year contract, according to reports in the UK press.

Reds co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have promised to hand Benitez £20m on top of the £12m recouped by selling Anfield flop Robbie Keane back to Tottenham Hotspur and he is free to spend it all on transfers this summer.

Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry is once again top of the Spaniard's wanted list, Liverpool having failed to land the England international last summer, and Spurs winger Aaron Lennon is also a target.

After securing his own future, Benitez will now turn his attention to negotiating new contracts for Anfield stars Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres ahead of his summer spending spree.

"My priority now is to do the deals for my staff and for the players who will be important for this club in the future," Benitez said.

Top earner Gerrard can expect a small increase in his £100,000-a-week salary to keep him at Anfield into his thirties, while Torres will also be handed a revised package after returning to top form in recent games.

The £21m former Atletico Madrid striker, who arrived on a six-year deal worth £70,000 a week in 2007, is on course for a 12-month extension and weekly pay rise to £90,000.

Jamie Carragher, Dirk Kuyt, Daniel Agger and Alvaro Arbeloa are also in line for contract renewals.

Liverpool are also in the market for a new chief executive after parting company with Benitez's nemesis Rick Parry and Hicks, who claims to have settled his differences with co-owner Gillett, will only settle for the best possible option.

"We are focused on finding the very best CEO in the world to take the club forward," he said.

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