'We need top class players'
London - Injured Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has called on the club's American owners to improve the struggling team by bringing in top quality players.
His plea to owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett follows a humiliating home defeat by Championship (second division) side Reading in an FA Cup third round replay on Wednesday.
Torres is out of action for six weeks after tearing knee cartilage in that match, while captain Steven Gerrard and fellow midfielder Yossi Benayoun also picked up injuries.
"It's now the owners' turn. They have to sign players so that this does not happen again," Spaniard Torres was quoted as saying by British media on Friday.
"If we want to compete with (Manchester) 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."
"It's frustrating," added the Spain striker.
"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."
Rafa Benitez's Liverpool are seventh in the Premier League with 33 points from 20 games, 12 adrift of leaders Chelsea and five behind Manchester City in fourth spot -- the final Champions League qualifying position.
Liverpool start their bid to win the Europa League, the club's last realistic chance of silverware this season, against Romanian outfit Unirea Urziceni on Feb. 18 having failed to progress beyond this season's Champions League group stages.
"We didn't want to win the Europa League at the start of the season but it's a reality now. Now we have to win it," said Torres said in The Guardian newspaper.
"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, to take responsibility and 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."