Although Fernando Torres is still contracted to Liverpool for the next few years his interview with Spanish paper AS this past weekend will do little to appease the club’s supporters.

“I want to be competing next year to win the League and the Champions League, but that will mean bringing in new signings” Torres was quoted in the Spanish Daily AS over the weekend.

Thus far, \’new signings’ has resulted in the bit-part Italian midfielder Aquilani  and Greek centre-back Kyrgiakos  joining the first team squad.

When pressed further about the possibility of leaving Liverpool should they fail to qualify for the Champions League he responded honestly:

“It’s  too early to speak about this possibility, but I honestly believe that we are going to finish fourth. Playing in next season’s Champions League is not the most important thing for me. It’s more important is that the club makes a special effort to strengthen the squad with players which help improve the quality. We need four or five top players to compete, players who are better than the current players.”

The  Spanish  striker has endured a frustrating season with injuries and watched helplessly  at times  from the sideline as his team fall further behind the top trio of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Liverpool’s up-and-down season has seen a club touted by many as likely to threaten for the title at the beginning of the campaign quickly reduced to a battle with Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa for the coveted fourth spot and qualification for the Champions League next season.

Torres cut a forlorn figure up front for Liverpool against Lille in the Europa League  last week. An early exit from the Champions League hardly helped his  side’s  season but if Torres’s comments are to be understood correctly it appears failure to qualify for Europe’s Premier competition  for the coming campaign  may accelerate his exit from Anfield.

Who could blame him?

Rafa Benitez has been hamstrung in his attempts to sufficiently add to the Liverpool squad because of Boardroom squabbling from the club’s American owners.  And there  would  be no shortage of suitors for the Spanish international with many of the top Italian and Spanish clubs likely to fight it out for his signature.

Worryingly for Liverpool, other possible destinations for Torres include Man City  or even  Chelsea, two of the few clubs who would be able or willing to  meet  the Spaniard’s wage demands.

While it is highly unlikely Liverpool would consider selling one of their prize assets to another club at the top end of the Premier League, their current financial situation suggests the American owners would have to at least consider a multi-million pound offer for their Spanish striker.

The mouth-watering prospect of a forward line comprised of Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres may be enough to entice Roman Abramovich to consider sanctioning a world record transfer for the former Athletico Madrid player.

Tonight’s Premier League meeting with Portsmouth is a must-win game for Liverpool if they are to retain any hope of finishing fourth. The performance away to Wigan Athletic last week was simply unacceptable and although Benitez didn’t name names, his comments about his players lack of attitude was a break from the normal routine of never criticising his own team.

Torres’s decision to leave Anfield will surely accelerate if (as expected) Benitez finally parts ways with the club he brought Champions League success to only a few short years ago.

Injuries to key personnel and the dramatic drop in form of Steven Gerrard means it is  going to be an uphill battle to finish in the top four.  Fernando Torres  has now made it clear that unless the Liverpool hierarchy get their finances sorted off the pitch and sign enough quality players during the summer that he will have to look elsewhere in his search for silverware next season.

Ger McCarthy is author of Off Centre Circle, which chronicles the  curious life of  a West Cork League junior footballer.

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