Benitez says Liverpool want to keep star duo

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez claims if either Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres leave the club it will be a departure of their own making and not because they have been sold to balance the books.

The Spaniard insists the future of their star duo is "a question for them" as neither he nor the club - who last week revealed the debt of parent company Kop Holdings had risen to £351million last July - want to sell them.

Gerrard's behaviour at the final whistle of yesterday's disappointing goalless draw at Hull when he fought his way through Tigers fans streaming on to the pitch to applaud the visiting supporters could have been interpreted as a last goodbye.

The Reds captain has been linked with moves away from the club before and has twice been on the verge of joining Chelsea, with a reported £35million bid from Real Madrid the latest speculation surrounding the England international.

But Benitez, who has yet to clarify his own future, wants both Gerrard and Torres to remain at Anfield as they bid to climb back into the top four next season.

"That is a question for them," said the Liverpool boss when asked whether the players would want to stay after a season of under-achievement.

"I could read the newspapers and see if Rafa stays, maybe this player will go but if Rafa goes maybe he will still go - you cannot win."

Benitez had his first meeting with chairman Martin Broughton, who has been brought in by co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to oversee the sale of the club, last week and is scheduled to have another in the next few days.

While a number of matters were discussed it is evident the pair have not yet come to an accord on what is required to take the club forward and Benitez left the door open to a departure if he felt things were not progressing as he wanted.

"I expect to see the chairman and keep talking with him. I showed my commitment for years (he has four years of his contract remaining)," said Benitez, who was clearly angry at newspaper reports suggesting he was prepared to sell Gerrard and Torres.

"It would never be easy to leave this club. Every day you can read something different.

"It has always been the same situation: I decided to come here because of the fans and the club.

"I wanted to stay and I would like to stay if everything is fine.

"And IF I stay I am not thinking about selling Gerrard and Torres - just in case 'senior sources' say different things.

"It is very clear. The chairman was clear, he doesn't want to sell. The manager is clear, just in case you see any exclusive interviews with senior sources."

Hull manager Iain Dowie is another who hopes to have his future clarified this week.

The former Northern Ireland international took over from Phil Brown but failed to save the cash-strapped club from relegation.

Now he must wait to find out whether he will be given a chance to try to win promotion back to the Barclays Premier League.

"I'll have a discussion with the chairman sometime this week and we'll see," he said.

"It is important the club's financial stability is assured as quickly as it can be because there has to be massive changes to the budget.

"I've enjoyed my time here but unfortunately we've come up short."

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