Liverpool's American owners are preparing to sell the club before the end of the season.

The News of the World says Tom Hicks and George Gillett intend to secure manager Rafa Benitez and stars Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to new contracts to strengthen their hand in negotiations.

They are searching for a buyer and have been advised that the uncertainty over the manager's position makes Liverpool unattractive.

Hicks and Gillett know they must sell before July because of their £350million debt - and key players Gerrard and Torres will also be in line for deals in 2009.