Liverpool striker Fernando Torres believes the Reds must win the Europa League and secure a top four finish if they are to salvage their season – and has challenged the club’s owners to splash the cash or get left behind.
A shock defeat to Championship strugglers Reading in the FA Cup on Wednesday added to a succession of disappointments this term for the Anfield outfit, who have already been eliminated from both the League Cup and Champions League and lie 12 points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea.
But more importantly, Rafael Benitez’s side trail Manchester City, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur in the fight for fourth place, with failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League the primary concern on Merseyside.
And talisman Torres insists that finishing fourth and triumphing in Europe’s secondary competition is the only way the ailing Reds can save their struggling season.
"We didn’t want to win the Europa League at the start of the season but it’s a reality now," he told FourFourTwo.
"Now we have to win it. Anything less than winning the tournament would be terrible.
“If we do not win it then we have to say it’s been a very, very, very bad season in Europe.
"We need to improve, we need to take responsibility and we need to get into the top four and win something. We have virtually no chance of winning the title now.
“Now we need to make the best of this situation."
Torres has seen his own season hampered by a thigh injury in recent months, and he was withdrawn after just 29 minutes against Reading with a knee problem that will keep him out until March.
But it's the team's stumbling progress that is causing Torres the most pain.
“It’s frustrating. We finished second last season; this season should have been a turning point for us – the chance for us to do something great.
"Manchester United sold Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo, while Chelsea didn’t sign anyone. But it hasn’t been."
Now Liverpool's No.9, who saw former Atletico Madrid mate Maxi Rodriguez join the Reds on a free transfer on Wednesday, has called on the club’s owners to dig deep and back Benitez to ensure Liverpool are back challenging on all fronts next season.
“It’s now the owners’ turn,” Torres insisted.
“They have to sign players so that this does not happen again. If we want to compete with United and Chelsea we need a much, much more complete squad. We need more genuinely first class players and we can’t let our best players leave.”
Fernando Torres was speaking to FourFourTwo for next month's Strikers Issue, on sale January 23.
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