Liverpool's American owners have started the process of ensuring the club hold on to Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina this summer, opening preliminary discussions which it is hoped will remove release clauses written into the two players' contracts.
It is understood that Torres reached an informal understanding with Liverpool before the New England Sports Ventures (NESV) group headed by John W Henry took over that he would be permitted to leave at the end of this season if Liverpool had failed to qualify for the Champions League and a good offer came in.
The same goes for Reina, with unconfirmed suggestions that a £20m release clause is in place.
Henry and his chairman Tom Werner have already held initial talks with specific players and it is understood that NESV do not consider there to be any risk of Torres or Reina leaving in the January but they believe it is incumbent upon them to make key players feel that they want to stay at Anfield.
Dirk Kuyt has suggested that Torres' return form owes much to the belief engendered by the players behind him performing. “We say in Holland ‘one and one is two' which means when the team plays well, the striker plays well,” Kuyt said. “That's what happened with Fernando.”
Kuyt, who set up Torres' vital first goal, revealed that he feared he would be out of football for most of the season after being carried from the field during the Netherland's 4-1 win over Sweden last month with ankle ligament damage.
“When I was in the dressing room in Amsterdam, they told me that I might need an operation. If that had been the case, I would have been out for months. It was hard at the time but it's great to be back.”