Torres trains alone as Kop board cave to striker's sulk
Published 23:01 30/01/11 By David Maddock
It is a sentence every reporter is loathe to write, but yesterday on the lonely expanse of Liverpool’s training ground, a picture really did paint a thousand words.
As Fernando Torres trailed forlornly around the Melwood pitch, alone except for the shadow of one of the coaching staff, the image perfectly summed up his last few months at the club . . and his last day in the historic red shirt.
He has cut an increasingly isolated figure as this disappointing season has unfolded, his frustration and anger eventually settling into a petulant sulk that was framed in body language screaming of discontent and a desire to be elsewhere.
It is that image that stuck with Liverpool’s American owners over the weekend, as they pondered their options in the face of Chelsea’s continuing interest in the Spain forward.
They had a choice, take the money on offer, or make Torres stay until at least the end of the season. The prospect of keeping such a visibly unhappy, potentially disruptive influence makes that a simple decision in the end.
Torres has a clause in his contract that will kick in at the end of the season allowing him to join any club tabling an offer of £50million. It is that, combined with his attitude, that made the Anfield owners realise there was no value in forcing him to stay, even if morally, they must have been tempted to do so.
Put simply, Liverpool cannot get more than £50m for him in the summer, and if that figure is offered now, they have to take it, because to refuse would leave them open to the risk that they could miss out on the money at the end of the season if Torres gets a bad injury in the meantime.
A massive financial gamble for no gain. Keeping him for the next three and a half months provides no benefit either, given his shocking form in all but a handful of matches this term.
He would almost certainly simply sulk further, possibly damaging team morale.
That is why Torres was forced to train alone at the Melwood ground yesterday, because manager Kenny Dalglish does not want any poison to seep into the minds of the players committed to the future of the club.
Torres was told to report for training after the main session involving the first-team squad. That session dragged on longer than expected, and he was made to wait alone until every player had left, being kept completely apart from his team-mates.
With reports coming in around the same time yesterday afternoon that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had sanctioned the offer for Torres to go ultimately to the £50m that will land the player, it was essentially a done deal, barring the usual last-minute formalities.
Torres may well have known that when he trundled around Melwood.
That he can look forward to signing a £150,000 a week contract with Chelsea – £7.5m a year – and have a shot at winning the Champions League this season would no doubt have softened the blow of his enforced isolation.
His behaviour over the past few days and weeks, and particularly in playing so badly and still having putting in a transfer request, will rankle with Liverpool fans.
They will not mourn his passing, not least because of the suspicions aroused by one of the few performances – perhaps the only real one – he put in this season just happening to be against Chelsea.
There is also talk among some supporters that Torres picked up his form a little in recent weeks only because he was proving to the London club he still retained the ability that once made him the world’s best striker.
That will cause nothing but anger from a fanbase that believed Torres’ claims that he loved Liverpool, and was steeped in the club’s history.
As one song already composed by fans, to be unleashed when the Reds travel to Chelsea next weekend, points out: “Suarez, Suarez, he bought his band from a lad in Spain; Tall and blond forgotten his name; Luis Suarez Liverpool’s No.9.”