Torres: Let me go to Chelsea!
Published 23:00 28/01/11 By David Maddock
It is a prospect that was once not just untenable, but unthinkable.
Yet Liverpool fans should brace themselves this weekend, for the prospect of their idol Fernando Torres being paraded in front of the public on Monday, sporting the blue of Chelsea.
Chelsea have the money to make the deal, and the will is there from both the London club and the player himself to make it happen.
Liverpool have even got a deal done for Torres’ replacement Luis Suarez. The £23million price eventually agreed - double Liverpool’s initial offer - suggests that extra money is coming from somewhere...and now it seems clear exactly where
Maybe only time - the transfer deadline is 11pm Monday - can stand in the way of Torres leaving Anfield.
As the Mirror exclusively revealed yesterday, Roman Abramovich is prepared, ultimately, to punt as much as £60million in pursuit of the striker who was widely regarded before a recent slump as the best in the world.
Chelsea have now improved their original offer to £45milion with the additional temptation of £10m Daniel Sturridge thrown into the deal.
Torres himself has made it clear that he wants Liverpool’s American owners to listen carefully to Chelsea’s offer, and give it the consideration and respect he believes it deserves.
The Spanish star has expressed his desire for a new start to Reds boss Kenny Dalglish, and those close to him back in his home country - where he bolted yesterday to spend a weekend out of the firing line - say he wants to go to Chelsea now, rather than in the summer.
There is, surprisingly, unlikely to be quite the resistance from the Liverpool faithful that would have greeted such a prospect even last summer.
There has been a feeling all season that Torres has been angling to get away and his form has been, frankly, poor, with many already expressing the opinion that the club should cash in.
The seeds for such an incredible scenario were sown last summer, when Chelsea first came calling with a speculative offer of £30million.
Torres had become disenchanted at the tail end of the Rafa Benitez regime, but after the departure of the manager and some assurances that a takeover would happen, he was persuaded to stay, despite being keen on the Chelsea move even then.
Crucially, a verbal agreement was given that should a £50million offer come in, then he would be given the chance to listen to it. But that agreement was only due to kick in after a season, and was never written formally into his contract.
Torres was also approached by potential Liverpool buyer Kenny Huang, who suggested he would invest multi-millions in the transfer market if his takeover was successful, and that idea stuck with him (and was never discouraged) as a takeover loomed closer.
Huang though, was not successful, and the new American owners, Fenway Sports Group have been far more pragmatic in their approach to player signings. That has left Torres complaining he somehow feels cheated by the process.
That dissatisfaction is compounded by his anger at what he feels is a failure to put the verbally agreed escape clause into a more solid form, even if Fenway Sports rightly point out the agreement was with the previous regime.
It has left Torres wanting to join Chelsea, and back home in Spain yesterday, his representatives made no attempt to hide that fact to the national media representatives over there.
It is a situation that screams out to be resolved with a sale, especially if the fee proves big enough - as in the case of Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid - to appease the fans.
Logic suggests this skirmish is just the latest in a long war of attrition by Chelsea that is far more likely to lead to a final battleground victory in the summer, when the player has time to confirm what has been apparent for much of this season on the pitch - that his heart lies elsewhere.
To lose a player of that stature will undoubtedly be a bitter blow for Liverpool, but it is one the club has suffered before and emerged all the stronger for. Indeed, current boss Kenny Dalglish is living proof that this famous old club is far bigger than any player.
When Kevin Keegan, at the height of his fame, decided he wanted to experience life abroad and moved to Hamburg in 1977, devastated fans believed the prospect of replacing him was untenable.
But Dalglish arrived in his stead that summer, and wrote his name in Anfield legend, eclipsing even his predecessor’s fame in the process. That is a thought that today’s fans may wish to cling onto this weekend