Benitez ready to break Reds' transfer record

Liverpool manager refuses to rule out big buy in summer but also plans 'cute' purchases
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The Independent Online

The Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, knows he will have to be "cute and clever" in the market this summer but would not rule out breaking the club's transfer record again.

In the last two summers, he has spent £20m-plus on Fernando Torres and then Robbie Keane. And although Benitez is believed to have been given only £20m by the club's American owners for transfer deals – any more will have to come from sales – the Spaniard is planning purchases at both ends of the financial scale.

Linked again with Carlos Tevez this week, the club say they have not made a bid to the player's third-party owners. But Benitez is known to be keen to pair Tevez again with his compatriot Javier Mascherano, the pair having joined West Ham together in August 2006.

However, Benitez said: "We may break our transfer record, but certainly not Manchester United's. But it does not matter about the prices, it's about doing the right thing and finding the right players."

But, having all but assured Liverpool of the runner-up spot in the Premier League behind United, Benitez knows he has to work carefully in the transfer market to maximise the funds he has been given, or can generate. "The next step is to overcome Manchester United, and that is the hardest," Benitez said.

"It does all come down to the money they have been able to spend, that is the difference. If we want to reduce this gap we have to be really good in the transfer market this summer. That can be the difference between winning the two or three extra points that we would need to win the title.

"We do not have that sort of money, so we have to be cute and clever in the market. Then it does not matter if you have money or not. When you have a lot of money it is easier because nobody notices your mistakes. For us it is important to find good targets to buy and make ourselves successful.

"We have learnt a lot about our squad this season, we know each player that little bit better and it means we can improve for next season."

Benitez added that he was "proud" of his side. "The fact that we have won nine of our last 10 games and not won the title just shows the high level of the Premier League. This season we have managed very good performances against the top sides, now we have to improve a little bit more. We have 83 points and that would have been enough to win the title on six other occasions since the Premier League started. I can only underline that I am pleased and proud of my team to have gone this close."

Benitez has started to generate cash from his squad by agreeing a £1m fee for defender Jack Hobbs to stay at Leicester, where he has helped them to promotion from League One. Winger Paul Anderson will also join Swansea for a fee of around £750,000. Xabi Alonso is being linked with a £22m move to Real Madrid, while Ryan Babel could also be sold. Striker Andriy Voronin is also expected to be moved on.

But before a summer of change, Liverpool have their last game of the season on Sunday at home to Tottenham – and a reunion with Keane. Liverpool need a point to be sure of second place in the Premier League, but even if they lose to the north Londoners, third-placed Chelsea will have to turn round a goal difference deficit of five to snatch the runner-up spot.

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