Sales ‘messed everything up’ – Torres

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, 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.”