Benitez warns of lack of Liverpool investment

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The Independent Online

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has warned the club's current - and prospective future - owners that without major investment they cannot continue to survive on their reputation alone.

While the likes of Manchester City, in particular, Aston Villa and Tottenham are likely to spend heavily in the coming months the Reds face another summer of uncertainty.

They are the outsiders in the battle for the fourth Champions League spot and without money to bolster a squad lacking in quality in numbers Liverpool are at risk of falling further off the pace and losing their manager and the few world-class players they do have.

Benitez has argued throughout the campaign that their second-place finish behind Manchester United last season was a result of the squad performing at their absolute maximum with no margin for error.

Without significant reinforcements the Spaniard believes it makes it almost impossible for them to challenge for the Barclays Premier League title never mind end a 20-year championship drought.

"At this moment the club has a big name and a big history and everyone is expecting us to be at the top," said Benitez.

"But in reality we don't have enough money so we have to manage the expectation."

Co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett officially put Liverpool up for sale a fortnight ago having admitted they had taken the club as far as they could.

The problem is, with £237million of debt, a new stadium to build and Benitez wanting a summer transfer budget of £70million, any new owner will have to have find something in the region of £600million just to even get things back on track.

And with the American owners holding out for the best possible price, although the £800million suggested by Hicks is a long way from a realistic valuation, the danger is Liverpool will by hamstrung by inertia while their rivals are making big plans.

When senior players start calling for a raft of new signings it becomes obvious there is concern about the future in the dressing room.

"Jamie Carragher and Fernando Torres were talking about needing between three and five players and I agree with them," said Benitez, who continues to be linked with an end-of-season exit to Juventus.

"We will need those to have a stronger team.

"When I was asked about this I didn't say how much but a top-class player is around £15million so you can do the numbers - but it depends on the investors."

When asked if he had been given any indication there would be money available for rebuilding Benitez replied with a blunt: "No."

With the extra-time Europa League semi-final exit to Atletico Madrid on away goals, despite winning 2-1 at Anfield last night, Liverpool's season is now all but over.

They may hold out slim hopes of snatching fourth place but with two matches remaining - City and Tottenham have an additional game in which they play each other - there are too many variables to make securing Champions League football anything more than a distant dream.

"Still we have to play two games and see what happens but it is not a good season, that is very clear," said Benitez.

"The expectation was very high; at the beginning we had problems and it has been the same all season.

"The game against Atletico was proof of this, the way you concede when you are so close.

"We are disappointed because we worked so hard and deserved more but conceded another silly goal which made the difference because at 2-0 we were there (in the final).

"It has been the same during the whole season. We are pushing, in control and then make a mistake and the whole thing is different."

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