Liverpool must keep stars insists Torres

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres believes the club have to hang on to the likes of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano if they are to depose Manchester United as Barclays Premier League champions.

The two midfielders are major targets for Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively but Torres is in agreement with manager Rafael Benitez that neither should be sold - despite potential offers in excess of £25m each.

Yesterday Alonso failed to pledge his full commitment to the Merseysiders while Barca president Joan Laporta again hinted they were willing to use Mascherano's international team-mate Lionel Messi to lure the Argentina captain away from Anfield.

The increasing speculation about the two is a concern for Torres, who himself signed an improved contract with the club towards the end of last season.

"I worry about losing my team-mates but if we can keep our best players and bring in some more, we'll be even stronger for next season," he said.

"The important thing is we're getting closer to the title. It's been frustrating for me because three years without a trophy for Liverpool is too long.

"The next one is coming, though - I'm sure of it. Man United have been the strongest team in Europe but they've lost an important player (Real Madrid-bound Cristiano Ronaldo), so maybe it's our time now.

"My ambition is to win trophies with Liverpool. We must win something next season.

"And then, with Spain, it's obvious that the 2010 World Cup is our big challenge. I hope 2009-10 will be a great season for me."

Torres accepts the club's lack of financial muscle means they are unlikely to be able to compete for star signings like international team-mate David Villa - valued at £40m - but he believes that will not affect their chances of winning trophies.

The Spain striker has recommended his international team-mate, plus fellow Valencia pair David Silva and Juan Mata to manager Rafael Benitez, but knows signing Villa is a distant prospect with Liverpool's transfer fund dwarfed by both Real and Barcelona's as well as Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea's.

However, regardless of finances the Spain striker is confident Liverpool can overcome United, whom they came a close second to in last season's Barclays Premier League.

"I don't know about Liverpool's financial situation but I know we don't have the same money as Manchester United or Chelsea," he told ZOO Magazine.

"We're fighting them with less money every season. That's not a problem for us - we're a strong team and we'll win trophies with money or without it.

"I know Rafa is working hard to bring in good players but I'm pretty sure David Villa will be too expensive for us.

"He is an outstanding striker and if Liverpool could sign anyone, I'd ask for him. He's been in sensational form this season.

"But, to be honest, we have Steven Gerrard playing behind the striker and he scores 20 goals a season, so we don't really need another forward. We just need to keep our best players.

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<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
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<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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