Roy Hodgson has told Manchester United and Arsenal that Jose Reina is not for sale and is hopeful of convincing Fernando Torres to remain with Liverpool, despite both Spanish internationals having release clauses in their Anfield contracts.
Reina only signed a six-year deal with Liverpool in April while Torres, who is under contract until 2013, pledged to stay at Anfield following extensive talks with the club’s then managing director, Christian Purslow, in the summer.
The pair have get-out clauses in their existing contracts but, although Reina and Torres are concerned over Liverpool’s ability to return to the Champions League, the club are unperturbed at claims the clauses could be invoked in January.
New England Sports Ventures’ €340 million takeover has removed pressure to sell players and the new owners are adamant they will improve the squad, not diminish it, during their first transfer window in charge.
Hodgson conceded last week that his club could be vulnerable to a January bid from United for Torres, albeit before Wayne Rooney signed a five-year contract. But the Liverpool manager also said: “I don’t believe we will lose him. We will do our best to ensure he stays.”
United are looking, too, for a replacement for Edwin van der Sar and Arsenal are keen on the €23 million-rated Reina but the Liverpool manager has insisted the 28-year-old will remain.
“Pepe is fantastic here, he is lifeblood of this team,” Hodgson said. “Everything he does around the club is excellent. He is always lively in the dressing room, he is always first class in training and he always wants to do more to improve. He demands better from those around him, he is always pushing people on. He is a player who we hold in the highest esteem.
“We have heard nothing from Manchester United and, more to the point, we don’t want to hear anything from Manchester United. If (Alex) Ferguson is looking around at the end of the season and he has got lots of money to replace Van der Sar, he might very well want Pepe Reina because he is the best around. But we do not want to sell him. I would like to think we are going to become a successful club once again and Pepe is crucial to that.”
Dirk Kuyt could be fit for Chelsea’s visit to Anfield on Sunday week, having made good progress in his recovery from an ankle injury. The Dutch forward feared he could be sidelined until January but Hodgson said: “He shouldn’t be as far advanced as he is but he’s looking good. I don’t think he’ll be fit for the weekend (at Bolton Wanderers) but maybe the weekend after.”
Glen Johnson has an outside chance of returning for Sunday’s trip to the Reebok Stadium following a thigh strain.