Liverpool owner pledges to strengthen squad

Liverpool owner John Henry pledged Friday to strengthen his

squad rather than allow top players to leave the struggling Premier

League club.

Spain striker Fernando Torres is constantly linked with a

departure from Anfield, while manager Roy Hodgson has warned

Manchester United that goalkeeper Pepe Reina is not for sale after

reportedly being a transfer target.

Henry, whose New England Sports Ventures bought English soccer’s

most successful club from Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. earlier

this month, is focused on rebuilding a team that is off to its

worst start in more than 50 years with only two wins from nine

matches.

”Our clear focus from Day 1 of our ownership has been and will

be to improve the club and focus on what it will take to put

Liverpool FC consistently in a position to challenge for

trophies,” Henry said Friday. ”We intend to build this club the

right way. Stories about our top players leaving are destructive

and unwarranted, but we realize that this kind of speculation is

also common.

”We intend to build on the strength of the current squad, not

undermine it. And I can reassure our supporters that we have no

intention of allowing the team to be weakened going forward.”

Henry’s investment group, which also owns the Boston Red Sox, is

still determining its plans for the January transfer window.

”As everyone knows we are new to English football, but not to

sport, and we are studying all options,” Henry said.

”Opportunities and value will drive spending in January and in the

future.”

Hodgson believes the club can rival Europe’s heavyweights in the

transfer market, despite its lowly position in the Premier

League.

”We have got to make certain that if we go out and spend 20

million pounds ($32 million), we are getting a 20-million-pound

player,” Hodgson said. ”We want to be attracting the players that

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter (Milan) are chasing. It would be

nice to think that we can shop at a high level.

”We are going to be very interested in trying to improve our

squad in January. There is no question about that. I am sure we

will sign players.”