Hodgson insists Torres and Gerrard will stay

LIVERPOOL manager Roy Hodgson has warned rivals star pair Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are not for sale – but Javier Mascherano’s future remains uncertain.

All three players have persistently been linked with big-money moves away from Anfield this summer and retaining their services is one of new manager Hodgson’s top priorities.

Hodgson, who took charge a fortnight ago, met with Torres for the first time this week following the striker’s return from the World Cup in South Africa.

Chelsea, Manchester City and Barcelona have all been touted as potential destinations for the 26-year-old Spaniard for fees upwards of £50 million (€59m).

Hodgson, speaking at his team’s pre-season training camp in Switzerland, said: “As far as we are concerned he is a Liverpool player and we want him to remain a Liverpool player.

“He is not for sale and we don’t welcome any offers for him. We want to keep him.

“We spoke about football, the World Cup, his injury, and I told him how much I am looking forward to working with him.

“Christian Purslow (managing director) was also at the meeting and chatted to Fernando for a lot longer after I left but my chat with him was only about football matters.”

The situation concerning Mascherano seems more problematic as Hodgson concedes he has been unable to make contact with the Argentina captain since his World Cup involvement ended.

Mascherano, 26, is thought to be a target for his former Anfield boss Rafael Benitez at Inter Milan with his agent claiming the European champions are interested. Hodgson said: “I have tried to contact Javier. I have left him voice messages and sent him texts but had no reply.

“To be fair to him, that’s not unusual because he’s had a tough World Cup and I believe he’s gone back to Argentina.

“It’s not always easy to get in touch with people. I have tried to reach him to make clear I am happy to talk with him at his convenience.”

Speculation over Gerrard’s status at the club has cooled following Hodgson’s arrival and England’s World Cup skipper has publicly backed the appointment.

Nevertheless, with new Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho a known admirer, Hodgson has felt it necessary to underline the club’s stance on their talismanic 30-year-old captain.

Hodgson said: “I have met with Steven and thought the talks were positive. We are in a situation where we hear our players are being courted by other teams but it is all just rumours.

“What we haven’t had is a club wanting to buy Steven Gerrard. Steven Gerrard is not for sale – I made that clear to him.”

Hodgson has also played down reports linking Liverpool with a move for Nice striker Loic Remy.

It has been claimed Hodgson is competing with West Ham and Tottenham for the France international’s signature.

“He’s a player I know very little about,” he said. “If I am going to be interested in a player I am going to have to watch him playing, study him and make judgments which I have not been able to.”

Meanwhile Hodgson’s former employers Fulham will announce their new manager next week with Ajax boss Martin Jol and Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson the favourites

The club have been without a boss since Hodgson joined Liverpool on 1 July, with Ray Lewington in temporary charge.

There will be no appointment before the squad leave for their 10-day pre-season tour to Sweden on Monday but the new man will fly out to join the party. Jol, who was sacked by Tottenham in October 2007, still owns a house in England and may be keen on a return to the Premier League.

Reports suggest the 54-year-old would be given rolling contract, similar to that which Hodgson was on, and an improvement on his current salary.

His current club, Ajax, will be playing Champions League football next season if they come through qualifying.

Eriksson managed Ivory Coast at the World Cup and is thought to have held talks with Fulham.

However, the Swede revealed earlier this week that he was considering a lucrative offer to stay on as head coach of the west African nation.


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