Benitez sacked by Inter - will he return to Liverpool?
As details of the Spaniard’s departure from Italy are thrashed out Roy Hodgson says he is unconcerned
Italian television has confirmed that Rafa Benitez is on his way out of Inter Milan. The Spaniard, who took charge of the European champions in the summer, has been at loggerheads with the club in recent weeks after a poor start to the season and Benitez will leave today.
Sky Sports Italia reports that Benitez's agent, Manuel Garcia Quilon, met Inter's vice-president Rinaldo Ghelfi and technical director Marco Branca on Wednesday to discuss a severance package. "We are negotiating with Inter to rescind the contract," said Quilon later, adding: "We have not yet reached a definitive conclusion. Tomorrow [Thursday] we will meet again and continue with the negotiations to find a solution."
Benitez took over at Inter in the summer, leaving Liverpool to assume control after the departure of Jose Mourinho to Real Madrid. But the Spaniard has not enjoyed a happy time of it at the San Siro, and with Inter currently lying in seventh spot in Serie A (13 points behind leaders AC Milan), his position has become untenable in the eyes of club president Massimo Moratti. Victory for Inter in the Club World Cup at the weekend did little to ease the pressure on Benitez with Moratti claiming the "situation is a bit of a mess".
Now it appears Moratti intends to clean up the mess before Christmas, sacking Benitez and replacing him – if the rumours are to be believed – with former AC Milan coach Leonardo. Asked if there was any truth in the story that the Brazilian would take the helm at the San Siro, Moratti said simply: "I haven't met Leonardo."
As for Benitez, he is said to have fled to the house he still owns in Liverpool, and tongues are wagging on Merseyside that he might be fishing for his old job. His successor at Anfield, Roy Hodgson, was asked on Wednesday if he felt under threat from the presence of Benitez. "No," he replied. "If he was the right man for the job it would have been wiser not to let him go for six months and then have to bring him back again. This job will always be linked with lots of people. When you are in one of the top jobs in the country it would be very strange if there were not other people being linked with my job. I am sure there are many people who are envious of my job and would like to take my place."