Benitez quells Owen talk
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Rafa Benitez has once again rejected rumours he wants to sign Michael Owen.Rafa Benitez has once again rejected rumours he is planning to bring Michael Owen back to Liverpool as the Reds boss considers offers for Milan Baros.
Former Liverpool favourite Owen is being strongly linked with a return to Anfield after being granted permission to speak to other clubs.
Newcastle United want to sign the England ace, while reports in Spain persist that Liverpool are in the hunt.
Benitez has frequently denied speculation he is chasing Owen and has reiterated his stance that he does not require a new striker.
Instead, Benitez is close to shipping Baros out of his squad, with Lyon and Aston Villa both lodging bids for the Czech Republic international.
Baros will remain in contention to play for The Reds while Benitez mulls over the offers, and the Spanish coach also scotched talk of fielding any enquiries for Djibril Cisse.
"I was waiting for [a question about] Baros, maybe another one about Owen and maybe about Cisse," said Benitez.
"Baros we don't have news on. We have a good offer from Olympique Lyon and another one from Aston Villa.
"We must analyse both and while we analyse he will be playing for us.
"About Owen and Cisse there is no news. Cisse is our player and I can assure you we are looking for a centre back, not a centre forward.
"When I read the Spanish press I smile as we have not made an offer [for Owen] and are only thinking about the centre back position."
As part of Villa's bid to sign Baros, there have been suggestions that Benitez wants Nolberto Solano to be included as a makeweight.
Villa boss David O'Leary revealed Liverpool's interest in the Peruvian but Benitez insists he has not made a bid for the winger.
He added: "I only read the news and see on the TV they rejected our offer for Solano. We have not made any offer for Solano.
"We are only talking about Milan and are waiting for a good price."
O'Leary has again clarified his desire to keep Solano at Villa Park and the Irishman cooled talk that he is tracking Juventus forward Fabrizio Miccoli.
"No one has spoken to me about Nobby going to Liverpool," said O'Leary. "Obviously, I do not want to lose him as I'm already short of players.
"Instead, I'm hoping that we might see some new players before the deadline, although I see my name mentioned with a player in Italy but that is news to me."