Liverpool dismiss sales speculation
Liverpool owner John W Henry has hit back at "destructive and unwarranted" speculation that the club are willing to sell some of their top stars.
Henry and his New England Sports Ventures group completed their takeover of the Premier League team earlier this month, but the arrival of the American investors at Anfield has done little to quell talk that goalkeeper Pepe Reina and striker Fernando Torres could be on their way out.
Reina has been linked in the press with Manchester United, while Torres is reported to have attracted interest from Manchester City, Chelsea and Barcelona. It has been claimed that several Liverpool players are unhappy with the chaos that enveloped the club during Henry's protracted buy-out of previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
But Henry remains confident there will be no major sales when the transfer window re-opens in January. "We have recently read stories about our intentions for the forthcoming January transfer window and have a sense of humour about this type of inevitable speculation," Henry told Liverpool's website.
"As everyone knows we are new to English football, but not to sport, and we are studying all options. Opportunities and value will drive spending in January and in the future. Our clear focus from day one of our ownership has been - and will be - to improve the club and focus on what it will take to put Liverpool FC consistently in a position to challenge for trophies.
"We intend to build this club the right way. Stories about our top players leaving are destructive and unwarranted but we realise that this kind of speculation is also common. We intend to build on the strength of the current squad, not undermine it. And I can reassure our supporters that we have no intention of allowing the team to be weakened going forward."
With Henry promising to give Roy Hodgson significant funds to improve his squad, the Reds manager admits he may have to spend big to get Liverpool back on an equal footing with Europe's top teams.
"If we want the right quality, we have got to be prepared to pay the right price," Hodgson told Liverpool's website. "The owners know that perfectly well. We have got to make certain that if we go out and spend £20million, we are getting a £20million player.
"We want to be attracting the players that Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter are chasing. It would be nice to think that we can shop at a high level. I'm like all managers in that I'm wary of the January transfer window. But we are going to be very interested in trying to improve our squad in January. There is no question about that."
Hodgson also tried to defend his relegation-threatened side's poor record so far this season by claiming former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez left him with a squad full of expensive underachievers. "I think you can pay an awful lot of money for poor players and you can pay not very much money for very good ones - it is all to do with how good your scouting and your eye is," he added.
"There are a lot of things here that the club has got to get right. We have got a lot more expensive failures on our list than good players that we have brought in for next to nothing. Free transfers don't necessarily mean that you have got a bargain. My experience of them has been very mixed. You need to be sure that the player you get can do the job you want from him."