‘Wheeler dealer’ Benitez fears for Liverpool’s future
Reds boss says he needs money to keep Liverpool in touch with the big boys ahead of Benfica clash
After six years of "wheeling and dealing" Rafa Benitez says he can no longer deliver the success expected by Liverpool fans unless the club is given a significant cash injection this summer - and the under-fire Spaniard even claimed that by getting the club into the Champions League he had been overachieving.
With the Reds languishing in sixth place in the table and distant outsiders out of the race for fourth spot Liverpool's season could effectively be ended tonight if they fail to get past Benfica in the Europa League quarter finals.
They trail the Portuguese club 2-1 after the first leg, but will have home advantage in the second leg.
Benitez's comments have the ring of a manager who is less than happy with his lot, and could even be interpreted as an attempt to bolster his Anfield reputation before a possible move to Juventus in the summer.
"We have been for six years wheeling and dealing and keeping the club at a very good level, but it is very difficult to stay at the level that everyone is expecting," he said, despite the fact that he has spent well over £100m in the transfer market in the last three seasons.
"For six years in a row we were in the Champions League. That was unexpected and we brought big money into the club."
He said that after almost winning the title last year, the lack of funds with which to strengthen the squad ahead of this season's campaign was partly to blame for Liverpool's failure to challenge this time round.
"We were so close last year," he lamented. "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."
Benitez also expressed concern that the club's owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett had passed up the offer of a £110m investment from a group of financiers known as the Rhone Group. There were concerns about the group's provenance among some fans but the club needs to start paying off its £237m debt before the summer and Benitez is anxious to secure the funds needs in the summer
"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," he said. "We have to be positive and think the investors will come. 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." ·
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