Rafael Benitez is ready to break up his Champions League winning team as he looks to create a new Liverpool dynasty.
The triumphant Liverpool coach said yesterday. “I have a clear idea about the future and I’ll talk to my players about what I want to do.
“We will speak. We knew the players before the final, so this occasion hasn’t changed the way we are thinking. I want to take Liverpool to the Premiership title – for me, that is the challenge now.
“I said when I first came here that the squad was 60% towards where I wanted it to be and now it is maybe 70%, but there is still much to do. You always need to analyse your squad’s possibilities and whether you’ll have the money to change things, but the team will be better next season.”
Benitez is believed to be closing in on Villareal goalkeeper Jose Reina and after almost 12 months of speculation, Steven Gerrard looks set to sign a new deal, but several others are set to go.
“Steven Gerrard is a key player for us, along with Xabi Alonso, Luis Garcia, Fernando Morientes, Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia,” said Benitez.
“We’ve a lot of good players but we need to find more to improve the team.”
Reina’s arrival could spell the exit for Jerzy Dudek, the hero of the penalty shoot-out in Istanbul.
Vladimir Smicer and Dietmar Hamann are also out of contract this summer and look to be heading for new clubs despite their roles in the comeback om Istanbul.
Milan Baros is expected to leave with Valenica reported to be interested in his signature, while Igor Biscan is another who may be encouraged to find a new club.
Champions League success at least should help to attract new players.
“Other players will see we have a good side and, maybe, some of them will decide to come to us because we’ll have a good chance of claiming more titles now,” added Benítez.
“I want to sign good players, good professionals. The English market is unbelievably expensive, but we will find the people we want. The team will be better next season, for sure.”
Despite Wednesday’s success, Benitez believes that his most pressing challenge is to make Liverpool competitive in the Premier League.
“We are analysing why we only finished fifth in the Premier League,” he added. “We need to learn why we did some things so badly this season.
“This [the Champions League] is not enough. You need to keep working hard to improve all the time and, although we are moving in the right direction, we are only one step higher now.”