- Associated Press - Friday, October 29, 2010

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND (AP) - 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.”