Rafa - I snubbed Owen move

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has revealed he snubbed summer pleas from senior players to bring Michael Owen back to Anfield.

Owen left Liverpool in 2004 to join Real Madrid and the striker has since returned to the Premier League with Newcastle, who travel to Merseyside to take on the Reds on Saturday.

Having identified that Liverpool were in desperate need of a clinical finisher ahead of the start of this season, Benitez opted not to attempt to try and lure Owen from the grasp of Newcastle and instead plumped for the 25million purchase of Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid.

And the move appears to have been a shrewd piece of business as 23-year-old Torres has hit 18 league goals this season, while Owen has only netted on four occasions.

Anfield stars

Benitez insists he decided not to move for Owen because he believed Torres possessed more 'potential', but the Liverpool boss has revealed he went against the wishes of a number Anfield stars when pushing for the latter.

"In the summer, Michael was one of the names on the list of strikers we were pursuing," Benitez told the Daily Mirror. "But Fernando was always top of that list, and the one we wanted above all others.

"When you talk to Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher they say what a great player Michael is, and they wanted him, because he is a great finisher and a good striker.

"But Torres was our top choice because he was young, because he is very quick and he has such potential. He had all the conditions we wanted, and we are very, very happy with our decision.

Best in the world

"When Michael is fit he is one of the best forwards in the world. But we thought that maybe Nando was younger, quicker and could do what we wanted, which was to run behind defenders from deeper, and play for the team.

"The scouting department saw the pace and ability and hunger of Torres. Michael is great but we are happy that Torres is here.

"He has so much potential, and he is still learning. He knows he can improve, he knows he must get better, but the good thing is he is such a nice lad, so down to earth and he wants to improve and get better.

"He was the main player at Atletico, but he doesn't want to be the superstar. He is humble and he has a lot of good people around him, his family, his girlfriend who all have good ideas about his future."