Liverpool insist star players will remain at club

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The Independent Football

Liverpool chief executive Christian Purslow today pledged the club will not sell on their star players despite the financial restrictions currently in place at Anfield.

Manager Rafael Benitez had little money to spend in the winter transfer window to bolster a squad which has had a disappointing first half of the season.

It is unlikely American co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett will be able to provide substantial funds in the summer as they try to manage the £350million loan they took on when they bought the club three years ago.

With the building of a new stadium in Stanley Park having stalled because of the global recession, further outside investment is crucial to kick-start building work and the club's fortunes.

But the likes of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard will not be sacrificed if the finances start to pinch.

"We are not a selling club, absolutely not," said Purslow, who insists Liverpool are still one of the world's biggest clubs despite their troubles this season which sees them playing catch-up in the race for Champions League qualification.

"Liverpool is one of the big four clubs in the world.

"We pay salaries and transfers at the level of the top four in this league and that is the sporting level I hope to maintain.

"Our problem is that we do not have two first XIs, as other clubs do. We do not have that financial capacity."

A new stadium is pivotal to all Liverpool want to achieve as it will double their income, but Purslow admits without substantial funding from a new investor the owners' hands are tied.

"When I arrived, along with the owners we decided we had to find new investors," he said.

"Without investment, there is no new stadium. First step: new investment. Second step: stadium. Third: generate more profits to build a stronger team.

"We have people interested and would like to have it resolved before the season ends."

However, if investment cannot be found then Purslow, who describes himself as "a specialist in taking financially-troubled companies forward", is confident other solutions will be found.

"[Without investment] then we'll continue as we are. We would like more if possible, but without appealing to a wealthy individual," he said.

"This is our Plan B: run the club in the most responsible way possible.

"We generate a healthy profit and fulfil our obligations, while remaining sufficiently competitive in the market and the wages we pay.

"We satisfy (UEFA president) Michel Platini's criteria for participation in European competition."

Just as crucial in the short term is that Liverpool qualify for next year's Champions League, having suffered an ignominious early exit this season, as that will maintain current revenue streams.

After a difficult period, a six-match unbeaten run has lifted the club to within a point of fourth-placed Tottenham and Purslow is confident Benitez's "guarantee" of a top-four place will come good.

"We will be in the Champions League, for sure," Purslow told Spanish newspaper AS, adding that he was not worried by the recent speculation linking Benitez with Juventus.

"It is normal that big clubs are interested in Rafa. There are many things I want in this life, but that does not mean that I can have them.

"We have not considered, nor are we going to consider, a future without Benitez.

"Our five-year plan calls for stability in the coaching staff and squad.

"Hence the recent renewal of Rafa's - and key players' - contracts. There will be no dramatic restructuring."

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