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Martin O’Neill tops Liverpool wishlist to replace Rafa


Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill

Liverpool have placed Aston Villa's Martin O’Neill at the top of their wanted list to replace Rafael Benitez as manager.

Benitez’s future at Anfield remains uncertain, but should he go it is understood that the Reds will target former Northern Ireland skipper O’Neill, currently in charge of Aston Villa.

Liverpool have had a nightmare season, finishing seventh in the Premier League, failing to qualify for the Champions League.

Benitez has lost the support of many Liverpool fans and it has been reported that top stars have lost faith in the Spaniard.

While Liverpool fans wait to see what happens with the manager, they are fearful that captain Steven Gerrard and striker Fernando Torres could be tempted to move with all the uncertainty existing at Anfield in terms of Benitez and the ownership of the club, with Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett hoping to sell up.

Juventus were thought to be keen on appointing Benitez as boss but it has been said that their interest has cooled recently.

Benitez has been making all the right noises about wanting to lead Liverpool to bigger and better things next season, but that may not be enough for a board desperately unhappy with a season in which Liverpool lost 19 times.

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If Liverpool decide Benitez has to go that would trigger a £16 million pay out to the former Valencia coach.

It would also trigger a move for O’Neill (pictured), who is renowned for his motivating powers and man management. Over the last few months there has been much discussion about O’Neill’s future at Aston Villa.

He has said that he has a special job at “a remarkable club”.

Talks with Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner are expected soon while Benitez will hold further discussions with his chairman at Anfield, Martin Broughton.

Whatever happens, it promises to be a summer of intrigue at Anfield as a Chinese multi-millionaire has emerged as a potential new owner.

Internet gaming tycoon Zhu Jun, 44, is reported to be ‘sincerely interested’ in the club. An informed source in Shanghai says Zhu has already had two exploratory meetings about buying Liverpool with Barclays Capital, the global investment bank.

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