The departure of Fernando Torres from Liverpool is starting to look increasingly inevitable. There was a touch of defeatism to manager Roy Hodgson’s recent admission that Torres has potentially irreconcilable issues with the Anfield club.
Although Torres will not have been particularly proud of his performances at the World Cup the success he has enjoyed on the international stage will serve as a painful reminder of the stark absence of honours on the domestic front.
The Spanish striker is unlikely to win any significant silverware anytime soon in Liverpool colours. The club are not even in the Champions League and it would be a major surprise if they were able to challenge for Premiership honours again next season.
If Torres does leave Liverpool, then it only remains to be seen where he goes and for how much. His agent has already suggested that Torres will remain in the Premiership. With Manchester United not in a position to start signing £50 million plus players this leaves Torres with a probable choice between Manchester City and Chelsea.
Both clubs are likely to bid for the Spaniard in what looks set to be the transfer story of the Summer. Manchester City are never afraid to flex their financial muscle and have already indicated that they would be willing to pay a British record £70 million for Torres.
Chelsea have been remarkably quiet in the transfer window but Roman Abramovich might view Torres as the perfect purchase to show the Eastlands club’s Arabic owners that Chelsea are still a financial force to be reckoned with.
Manchester City have just made Yaya Toure the highest paid player in the Premiership on £200,000 a week and could conceivably offer Torres significantly more. What they can’t offer is the opportunity to play Champions League football, or any guarantee that they will be challenging for the Premiership title next season.
Chelsea by contrast are always in the quest for honours on both the domestic and European front and are far more likely to give Torres an immediate opportunity to win major trophies for club, as well as country.
While cash strapped Liverpool will welcome a bidding war they may well favour selling Torres to Chelsea. A return to the Champions League is the priority for the Anfield club and if they allow Manchester City to improve to the extent that they actually overtake Liverpool it is far less likely to happen.
Chelsea are virtually guaranteed to finish in the top three so Liverpool can afford to allow them to strengthen their side without jeopardising their chances of claiming the fourth Champions League spot ahead of Manchester City, Tottenham, Aston Villa or even Arsenal.
Chelsea might also offer Liverpool an ideal replacement for Torres in the shape of Nicolas Anelka. The Frenchman, who once had a successful loan spell at Anfield, would probably find himself surplus to requirements if Torres did arrive.
Manchester City have a few unwanted strikers of their own but it is unlikely Craig Bellamy would return to Anfield. Roque Santa Cruz is a very different type of player from Torres and probably won’t appeal to Hodgson as a potential replacement for the want-away Spaniard.
With the lack of available funds at Liverpool, selling Torres now might be a sensible piece of business. If the potential £70 million price tag being discussed does prove to be a realistic figure, the club could probably use some of this money to bolster the coffers and still hand Hodgson a significant sum to reinvest.
Given that Torres has always been injury prone and will have had very little rest over the summer, Hodgson could be forgiven for feeling that now is the time to cash in on his most marketable asset. Liverpool will be reluctant to see the back of their prolific number nine, but this is one deal which could be in the interests of both the club and the player.
The process of Torres’s departure from Liverpool is one which Manchester City and Chelsea will be anxious to precipitate and a British transfer record breaking bid from either club is almost certainly imminent.
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