Liverpool's top stars are set to follow manager Rafael Benitez through the Anfield exit door — and there will be no shortage of takers for a World Cup-bound quartet of big names.
The news that Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano and Pepe Reina want out of the club on the back of Benitez’s departure won’t just rock Anfield, it will also nail speculation that it was player power that forced the Spaniard out of the club after six years in charge.
Benitez’s exit by mutual consent was confirmed by the club yesterday afternoon — although with a reported pay-off of just £6million when his contract was understood to be worth £16 million it amounts to a sacking.
Benitez said: “It is very sad for me to announce that I will no longer be manager of Liverpool FC.
“I'll always keep in my heart the good times I've had, the strong and loyal support of the fans in the tough times and the love from Liverpool.
“Thank you so much once more and always remember: You'll never walk alone.”
His failure to deliver on a ‘guarantee’ of Champions League football led to Benitez’s departure.
“After a disappointing season both parties felt a fresh start would be best for all concerned,” said chairman Martin Broughton.
There will now be a clamber to pick off Liverpool’s star men with Gerrard wanted by Real Madrid, while Torres and goalkeeper Reina may well be targeted by Barcelona.