Saturday 24 February 2018

Benitez: show me the money

Liverpool boss says club must invest 'to compete'

Rory Smith

Rafael Benitez has admitted for the first time that he feels he has taken Liverpool as far as he can after six years of "wheeling and dealing", insisting the club will not be able to compete for the Premier League or Champions League without the cash injection provided by fresh investment.

Although Liverpool must secure £100m before July to reduce their £237m debt and satisfy the club's bankers, the Royal Bank of Scotland, the only concrete proposal so far received, from the New York-based Rhone Group, was effectively rejected on Monday night as a deadline set by the firm to accept the offer passed.

Though club sources believe offers may come from at least two more suitors -- owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett spent yesterday in London speaking with their lawyers -- as it stands the club have made no progress in their attempts to draw a close to the financial travails of the last three years.

As long as that stagnancy endures, Benitez has warned, the club will be unable to deliver success.

"Some players have been talking about what we need for the future and I agree with them," Benitez said, referring to comments made by Fernando Torres suggesting the club require "four or five" top-class signings.

"If we want to take the step forward that we need then we will need some money to compete with the top sides.

"We have been wheeling and dealing for six years, keeping the club at a good level, but if we continue to do that, it will be very difficult to stay at the level everyone is expecting.

"We were so close last year and if you want to go one step beyond, you have to do something different, and not just on the pitch. I was watching Barcelona, a massive club with a massive stadium who can spend big money in the transfer market and have a lot of players coming through their system.

"That is what you need to compete at the maximum level. For six months I have been waiting for new investors and I was really optimistic, especially about (the Rhone) Group, but they are not there now.

"We have to be positive and think the investors will come," Benitex continued. "I agree that we need new signings, and the cost and value of these players is very clear in the market. If we need three or four players, we will need some money."

Benitez believes he has done his bit in balancing the books, in an attempt to ensure there is some money in the bank to spend this summer. That, though, provides scant consolation to supporters baffled by the Spaniard's removal of Torres after an hour of the 1-1 draw at Birmingham on Sunday.

Here, too, Benitez sees the effects of Liverpool's parlous financial state. His withdrawal of his countryman in favour of David Ngog sparked a firestorm of criticism, but Benitez believes perhaps that decision would not have been so roundly condemned had he been equipped with the funds to procure a substitute of greater experience.

"Every manager makes mistakes," he said. "But you can see the difference. At some clubs you can make two or three mistakes a year for £15m or £20m, and nothing happens.

"Here, because of the situation of the club, you make a substitution and we are talking for a week about the end of the world. It is because something has to change." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Liverpool (probable, 4-2-3-1): Reina; Johnson, Kyrgiakos,

Carragher, Agger; Mascherano, Lucas; Benayoun, Gerrard,

Kuyt; Torres.

Benfica (probable, 4-4-1-1): Cesar; Pereira, Luisao, Sidnei,

Luiz; Ramires, Garcia, Martins, Di Maria; Aimar; Cardozo.

Referee: B Kuipers (Netherlands).

liverpool v Benfica,

Live, 3e, 8.05

Irish Independent

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