Liverpool owner pledges to strengthen squad

Liverpool owner John Henry pledged Friday to strengthen his

squad rather than allow top players to leave as English football’s

most successful club struggles in the Premier League.

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 Liverpool from

Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. earlier this month, is focused on

rebuilding a team struggling after its worst start to a season 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 in a NESV statement. ”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.”

Liverpool manager Roy 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, 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.”