Fernando Torres has offered a frank assessment of Liverpool's failings this season, admitting a spate of summer departures "messed everything up".
The sale of midfielder Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid for a reported £30million has been widely criticised as the Reds' difficult campaign has unfolded, with his £20million replacement Alberto Aquilani struggling for fitness all season to the frustration of manager Rafael Benitez.
Versatile Spain defender Alvaro Arbeloa joined Alonso in moving to the Bernabeu, while the experienced Sami Hyypia was allowed to join German side Bayer Leverkusen.
The Reds were eliminated in the Champions League group stages for the first time in Benitez's tenure and face an uphill task to return to the competition at all next season, lying as they do four points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City having played a game more.
And a shock 2-1 FA Cup third-round replay defeat to Reading at Anfield left the Europa League - a consolation after their Champions League exit, but one in which they must overturn a 2-1 deficit to Benfica in Thursday's quarter-final second leg to progress further - as their only remaining chance of a trophy.
Torres, quoted in various newspapers today, said: "There have been various important factors, like being so far behind the top teams so quickly. That killed us psychologically.
"After that, injuries hit us hard and we have suffered a lot because of them.
"But after a good season last year, we needed certain reinforcements and we needed to keep the squad we had together. But circumstances dictated that we had to sell players and so everything got messed up.
"The sales of Arbeloa, Hyypia and Alonso were important losses.
"Alvaro always did a vital job for us, always played to a high level, and his flexibility was a huge bonus.
"Sami did not play every week but he was a 10 out of 10 on and off the pitch.
"And Xabi? Players like him are very rare. He was the team's engine, and you know that when you change an engine, it takes time to work again."Reuse content