Morientes Has Staying Power, Vows Rafa
Byline: JOHN EDWARDS
THE prospect of an escape route to Seville might have its attractions for Fernando Morientes, but Rafa Benitez insisted yesterday it had been closed off with the Spain striker's full approval.
Images of Morientes putting Chelsea to the sword in the Champions League during his loan spell with Monaco were still fresh in the memory when he completed a [pounds sterling]6million move to Anfield from Real Madrid.
Nine months on, they seem like a relic from the distant past, following an ill-fated stay beset by fitness problems and a suspicion his deft touches may never flourish in the Premiership's frenetic environment.
A seven-game run earlier this season - some as substitute - is the 29-year-old's best sequence of appearances so far. When he returned from his latest injury layoff, against Blackburn on Saturday, it was to groans of despair as three gilt-edged chances went begging.
The opportunity of striking an agreement with Real Betis, particularly one involving long-time transfer target Joaquin, could have been viewed by Benitez as a means of saving face.
The Liverpool manager would have none of it, though, as he included Morientes in his plans for tonight's Champions League tie here against Anderlecht, and revealed how his fitagain compatriot had vowed to avoid having 'failure' stamped on his CV.
Betis, beaten 2-1 at home by Liverpool a month ago, are eager to entice Morientes back to La Liga, but Benitez insisted: 'I have seen the stories in the Spanish press, as has Nando, and we are both of the same mind. …