Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez plays down Juventus link

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has rejected talk of an imminent move to become the new Juventus coach.
The Spaniard has come under-fire for a spluttering season and doubts over his future intensified on Friday with Ciro Ferrara's sacking at the Serie A club.

Rafael Benitez

Alberto Zaccheroni has been handed the role until the end of the season.

Benitez said he was "proud" to be linked as they are a "top side in Europe" but added: "I'm happy here and want to do a job as best I can."

The Reds manager signed a new deal in March 2009 to keep him at the Merseyside club until 2014, but an early exit in the Champions League and FA Cup, along with poor Premier League form, has not helped to quash reports of a premature departure.

Benitez's agent Manuel Garcia Quilon revealed on 26 January there was "no truth" in the media speculation linking his client to a move to the Turin club.

And although some reports in Italy suggested a Juventus delegation had flown to Merseyside this week attempting to secure a new long-term manager, Benitez was not prepared to discuss his future.
"I am not here to talk about speculation because people talk too much," said the 50-year-old.
"I am focused on preparing my team for the game against Bolton (on Saturday). I know they (Juventus) were interested, that is part of the game now in football, but I am not ready to talk too much because I don't want to lose my focus."

Former AC Milan and Inter Milan boss Zaccheroni was revealed as Ferrara's replacement on Friday until the end of the Serie A campaign, on the back of Juve losing nine of their last 12 games in all competitions. They currently lie sixth in the table. Their 2-1 defeat by Roma last weekend was their fifth loss in six league games and left them 16 points adrift of leaders Inter Milan.

A 2-1 loss to Inter Milan in the Italian Cup on Thursday proved to be Ferrara's last game in charge. That defeat followed a 2-1 home reverse to Roma in Serie A on Saturday.

"We have failed on our season goal," said Juventus president Jean-Claude Blanc after the Inter loss. "It is very upsetting."

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A former Juventus player, Ferrara began his first Serie A coaching job by replacing Claudio Ranieri on an interim basis for the final two games of last season.

The 42-year-old led Juventus to two wins and named permanent coach in June.

Juventus opened this season with four wins but then began to struggle in both the league and Europe. A 4-1 home loss to Bayern Munich in December eliminated them from the Champions League.

Injuries have played a large role in Juve's troubles, with captain Alessandro Del Piero, Gianluigi Buffon, Vincenzo Iaquinta, David Trezeguet and Mauro Camoranesi all missing chunks of the season.

Zaccheroni led AC Milan to the Serie A title in 1999 and has also coached Inter Milan, Lazio and Udinese in the top Italian league.

The 56-year-old, who has been out of coaching since getting fired by Torino in February 2007, was apparently selected ahead of Claudio Gentile, the former Juventus player and Italy under-21 coach.

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