Former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann believes finishing fourth in the Premier League and securing Champions League football for next season would be more beneficial to the club than Sunday's League Cup victory.
Despite ending their six-year trophy drought by beating Cardiff on penalties, the 38-year-old says that qualifying for Europe’s elite club competition is preferable as it would enable the side to build for the future.
"To progress the club and bring the happy days and the glory days back, I probably would have taken the Champions League [qualification] over the League Cup," Hamann told Sky Sports News.
"If you get in the Champions League it's extra funds, it's extra money, it's better players and I think that gives you a far better chance in the future to be successful."
"Medium to long-term if you want to compete with the best teams, you have to play in the Champions League and if the team wants to progress as Comolli and Kenny said they have to get in the Champions League and they have to transform the form they showed in the Cup into the league.
The German also believes his former club cannot attract top quality players without European status, as they face the risk of missing out on the Champions League for the second year running.
"I slightly disagree with [director of football] Damien Comolli that they attract the best players now," he added.
"You can't really compete with the top teams and attract the best players if you are not in the Champions League.
Despite the recent cup success, Hamann remains concerned about the quality of the club's midfield and says they must strengthen that area if they are to compete with the best teams.
"I think going forward in general they need to improve; their defence has been pretty solid throughout the season but going forward is where the worry is," he said.
"Stewart Downing had an ok start to his career; Jordan Henderson is not a wide player really. Craig Bellamy can't play two, three games in a week.
"So going forward that's where they need to improve if they want to challenge the top teams in England."
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