LIVERPOOL manager Rafael Benitez has stressed he is committed to the club but admits he is flattered by the charm offensive being undertaken by Juventus.

The Italian giants made the Spaniard their top target almost a fortnight ago and sacking coach Ciro Ferrara yesterday and putting Alberto Zaccheroni in place until the end of the season has only increased speculation about a move for the Reds boss in the summer.

Benitez only signed a new five-year contract, worth a reported £4.8m annually, ten months ago but an early exit from the Champions League and FA Cup and a fall off the pace in the Barclays Premier League increased pressure on him.

Such was the club’s predicament just over a month ago that Liverpool’s departure from Europe’s top club competition even brought about suggestions he could be sacked.

Benitez’s problems have been compounded by injuries to key players Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun and the parlous state of the club’s finances, which means he has had to resort to scrabbling around in the January transfer window looking for cheap deals.

While Juventus’ offer of a get-out in the summer, particularly if Liverpool do not finish in the top four, may seem an attractive proposition, Benitez is standing firm.

‘‘It is a difficult situation.

People were talking and there was a lot of speculation in the media,’’ he said.

‘‘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.

‘‘I cannot stop speculation all the time. At this moment we are preparing for the game against Bolton.

‘‘I will say I want to fight here, I want to do my job, I want to win and I want to do things here.’’ The link with the Serie A club comes from the fact Benitez, who speaks Italian well, is a close friend of Juve director Roberto Bettega.

With Liverpool’s American owners Tim Hicks and George Gillett struggling to come up with funds for the Spaniard to strengthen his squad, now or even in the close season, Juventus could be a preferable alternative.

The uneasy relationship between the two Americans means the Reds boss is never too sure if war will break out in the boardroom again, rendering him a pawn in any power game.