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Pompey, who sit just one place off the drop-zone, face a tricky home tie against Everton in the Premier League this Saturday lunchtime.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has been handed a £30m transfer budget along with his new five-year contract, according to reports.

Reds co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have promised to hand Benitez £20m on top of the £12m recouped by selling Robbie Keane back to Tottenham Hotspur.

Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry is once again top of the Spaniard’s wanted list, Liverpool having failed to sign the England international last summer, and Spurs winger Aaron Lennon is also a prominent target.

After confirming his own future, Benitez will also turn his attention to negotiating new contracts for Anfield stars Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

“My priority now is to do the deals for my staff and for the players who will be important for this club in the future,” Benitez said.

Biggest earner Gerrard can expect a small increase in his £100,000-a-week salary to keep him at Anfield into his thirties, while Torres, identified by Benitez as crucial to his title ambitions, will also be handed a improved package.

The £21m former Atletico Madrid striker, who arrived on a six-year deal worth £70,000 a week in 2007, is on course for a 12-month extension and weekly pay rise to £90,000.

Jamie Carragher, Dirk Kuyt, Daniel Agger and Alvaro Arbeloa are also in line for contract renewals.

Co-owner Hicks said that Benitez would be backed in the transfer market this summer but insisted that the club board and executives would retain overall control of transfer dealings.

“There will be money for him to spend in the summer. We have provided that consistently in the two years we have owned the club. That has never been the issue,” Hicks told the Telegraph.

“Rafa was never really making a power-grab for control of transfers either, despite what has been claimed. He will be given a budget by the board to work within. We will listen to his recommendations, as we should, and then the new chief executive, and until then the finance director [Philip Nash] will work with the players and their agents to negotiate terms.

“Rafa is fine with that. His frustrations in the past have been that things have taken too long to happen in his eyes, but that is not going to be the case going forward.”

Pompey, who sit just one place off the drop-zone, face a tricky home tie against Everton in the Premier League this Saturday lunchtime.

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