Jan 30 2011 by Tom Hopkinson, The People
FERNANDO TORRES informed one man at Anfield of his decision to leave Liverpool BEFORE he handed in his transfer request ... the skipper Steven Gerrard.
Torres, edging closer last night towards a £50million move to Chelsea, was desperate to let his team-mate know before he heard it via official channels.
Gerrard welcomed Torres with open arms when the Spaniard arrived on Merseyside in 2007. And Torres felt he owed Gerrard the courtesy of face-to-face talks.
Ironically, Chelsea have twice seriously courted Gerrard, who looked certain to switch to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2005 before opting at the 11th hour to stay on Merseyside.
Torres’s desire to leave will be a hammer blow to Gerrard, who believed the pursuit of Uruguayan hit-man Luis Suarez signalled a brighter future at Anfield.
Liverpool rejected Chelsea’s initial £35m bid for Torres on Friday, but sources at the club say he will be a Chelsea player by the time the transfer window closes at 11pm tomorrow if the champions up their bid to £50m.
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has made a personal plea to 26-year-old Torres not to turn his back on Anfield.
But a pal of the Spanish striker has told People Sport he considers his time there to be over.
And the source added: “The motive for Fernando to leave Liverpool is not money but football.
“He wants to win titles and, at this moment, it is not clear that he can do that at Liverpool.”
Torres, whose transfer request was rejected on Friday, has been offered a four-and-a-half-year deal at Stamford Bridge and a basic salary of not far short of £200,000 a week – £90,000 a week more than his current pay packet on Merseyside.
Chelsea cannot afford to wait. The Champions League is the trophy they covet most of all and Torres will be eligible to play in it for them only if he signs by tomorrow night’s deadline. He would still be eligible even though he has played in the Europa League for Liverpool. But if Chelsea were also to sign Benfica defender David Luis, they would not be able to play both.
Chelsea sources believe that Torres’s decision on Friday to ask for a move means a Merseyside farewell is inevitable.
Torres said soon after arriving at Anfield that he felt part of the fabric of both the club and the city and his transfer request is seen by many on Merseyside as an act of treachery, especially with the hated Chelsea waiting to snap him up.
Fan websites and message boards were awash with anti-Torres feeling yesterday.
Security has been beefed up around Torres with club officials worried fans may vent their anger on the star.
Liverpool maintained on Friday that the player was not for sale, but that stance appeared to have softened last night, with club insiders saying Chelsea would have to “substantially increase their offer”.
That is seen as a clear signal that the Spaniard can go once the bidding reached £50m.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich may call Liverpool’s bluff with a £40m bid, suspecting that they would accept that figure rather than hang on to a disaffected player.
Torres – currently in Spain where he took that pleading call from Dalglish – has told close friends that once-mighty Liverpool face a long road back before they can properly compete with Manchester United and Chelsea for the big prizes.
Carlo Ancelotti insisted last night there was “no change” in Chelsea’s pursuit of Torres after seeing his side draw 1-1 at Everton to earn an FA Cup fourth round replay.
The Chelsea boss refused to answer questions on the matter, simply saying: “There is no change.”
Asked whether he’d be happy if Chelsea were not able to sign anyone in the January window, he added :”I am always happy because the sun is shining.”
Meanwhile, Frank Lampard last night told Torres: We’d welcome you with open arms.
Asked about the possible arrival of the Spanish ace, he said: “Players of the top, top level who are world class will always help your squad.
“It remains to be seen what will happen – but it will always be welcomed by us.”
As Torres waits to make the switch, Lampard says Chelsea have not given up on the title. He added: “We have had a bad run but we will still give everything.