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Page last updated at 23:12 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 00:12 UK

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez wants overhaul at Anfield

Rafael Benitez
Benitez has been linked with a summer move away from Anfield

Rafael Benitez admitted it could take five new signings to turn Liverpool into trophy challengers once more.

The Reds lost to Atletico Madrid on away goals in the Europa League semi-finals to compound a miserable season, which they will finish empty-handed.

"Someone said we needed four or five players. I would more or less agree with that. That is what we have to do," said Liverpool boss Benitez.

"I do not know whether I will have any funds. We will find out in the summer."

Liverpool do still have the fourth Champions League place to aim for, but even that is a forlorn hope.

They would require victory over title favourites Chelsea in their penultimate game of the season on Sunday to stand any chance, while hoping other results go their way.

Benitez acknowledged there is plenty of work ahead if Liverpool are to regain their former status.

"Liverpool is a massive club," said the Spaniard after his side beat Atletico 2-1 at Anfield but drew 2-2 on aggregate to bow out on away goals.

"There has been a change in the last two or three years. We have had to balance the books and manage in this way."


However, whether he will stay at Anfield to undertake the rebuilding job remains to be seen.

Juventus are reported to be keen on acquiring the services of Benitez, who saw his hopes of leading Liverpool to a third European final under his charge collapse after they had found themselves in such a promising position.

The 50-year-old was cagey about his future, refusing to look any further ahead than the two games his side have left.

"The future is Chelsea. And then Hull," he said.

The exit was a microcosm of Liverpool's season - plenty of effort and some finesse in the first half, Alberto Aquilani providing the latter with a superb finish to put the hosts in front.

Although there were no more goals in normal time, Yossi Benayoun struck at the start of the additional 30 minutes and seemed to have set up an all-English final with Fulham in Hamburg on 12 May.

But former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan wrecked those dreams, leaving Benitez to pick up his players once more, after he ran out of experience to make a difference from the bench.

"Everything seems to have been against the players this season," he said. "It is clear that we had some problems.

"We had too many injuries and were lacking forward options. But the players worked so hard tonight and I am very proud of them.

"Now we have to concentrate and do our best in the next two games."

For Atletico it was a glorious night, allowing them to revel in the joy of becoming the only Spanish side to reach a European final this season.

"No one would have expected this," said coach Quique Sanchez Flores. "We are happy to represent our country and be Spain's only team in a European final.

"It was an amazing night. You can't come to Anfield without knowing you are going to suffer some difficult moments but we were the stronger side in extra-time and deserved to go through."

Now they must deny Fulham a magical end to one of the most incredible seasons in the west London club's history, and Sanchez Flores is wary.

"Never trust any team that goes all the way to the final," he added. "Any English team will be very competitive and Fulham are no exception."

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see also
Liverpool 'must improve academy'
30 Apr 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool 2-1 Atletico (agg 2-2)
29 Apr 10 |  Europe
Europa League as it happened
29 Apr 10 |  Football
Europa League photos
29 Apr 10 |  Football
Benitez agent denies Juve reports
27 Apr 10 |  Liverpool
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Liverpool
22 Apr 10 |  Europe

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