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Rafa's cash boost

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks plans to back manager Rafael Benitez this summer with a "substantial" transfer budget.

Despite the Texan and fellow American George Gillett putting the club up for sale last month Hicks claims they are prepared to give Benitez the funds to put things right after a dismal season.

That will be welcome news to the Spaniard, who has spent much of his time since the sale was announced trying to find out from chairman Martin Broughton -- brought in to oversee the process -- exactly what funds would be available during the ongoing uncertainty.

However, until that cash is forth-coming there will be others, aside from Benitez, who doubt whether Hicks can follow through on his pledge.

Hicks also stressed that star players like Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard would not be sold to generate income.

"We have no intention of selling any of our top players and we have a substantial transfer budget in place," said Hicks.

"There's so much misinformation about transfer spending. It's more than doubled under the ownership of George and myself from the previous three years and we will make a significant investment this summer. It's really about getting the right players."

The Americans have made lofty promises before, most notably when they took over in March 2007 promising to improve the club and build a new stadium in Stanley Park, but failed to deliver.

If Hicks follows through with his offer of transfer riches to Benitez it may make the club a more attractive proposition to outside investors.

But it is unlikely to improve his and Gillett's tarnished reputation among supporters, who have campaigned for a long time for the pair to leave.

"There's been so much misinformation put out by people who have their own agendas and it's unfortunate," said Hicks in response to the sustained criticism he has faced.


"But the truth is the club is much better off than it was three years ago.

"We've done our best. I'm disappointed on a personal level that our efforts have not been received as well as I wish they had been."

And Hicks, who remains committed to his high valuation of Liverpool, said they would not sell to the club to anyone they did not think was worthy.

"I think I have said £600-£800m is not an unrealistic value range, but the market's the market. We'll see," he said.

"We will sell the club. We're not going to sell it to the wrong group, we're not going to sell it for the wrong price, we're going to do it in a very thoughtful way.

"I don't anticipate it will be done necessarily before the beginning of the next season.

"We hope it gets done by the end of the calendar year.

"We're more concerned about finding the right next owner, somebody that can make the investment in the club to get the stadium built, and to let Liverpool be the best possible football club in the world."

Torres, meanwhile, has brushed aside questions about his Liverpool future but admitted the club needed to improve issues off the field.

Torres has previously spoken out about the need to bring in "four or five" quality signings this summer but said the ownership also needed to be addressed.

"That is one of the ways we need to improve," said the Spain international.

"I know the situation, I speak to the chief executive (Christian Purslow) and Rafa (Benitez) every week and I am aware of what is going on.

"I have tried to stay apart from them and re-focus on the national team so when the World Cup ends, we'll see what happens."

Torres' agent Jose Antonio Peton said earlier in the week that despite speculation about interest from Chelsea and Manchester City the 26-year-old would be remaining at Liverpool.

"For the moment I can assure fans that Fernando will continue at Liverpool next season," he told a Spanish radio station.


Those remarks were put to the striker yesterday at a press conference for his national team but he said: "I didn't read them.

"The most important thing for me now is the World Cup.

"My future is the World Cup and then we'll see later.

"For now and hopefully for the next two months the only thing I am thinking about and talking about is the World Cup."