Liverpool have lined up a remarkable £50m worth of transfers for deadline day as they prepare for life without Fernando Torres. The plan includes moves for Ashley Young, Charlie Adam and Luis Suárez.
Chelsea are willing to pay cash to bring the disaffected Torres to Stamford Bridge in what would be a record transfer between two British clubs, although not the £50m that Liverpool are seeking, which equates to the release clause in the 26-year-old’s contract should the Anfield club fail to qualify for the Champions League this season.
The Premier League champions are reluctant to lose Nicolas Anelka as part of the Torres transfer and the former France international does not wish to return to Anfield. Liverpool are not keen to have the young Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge included in the deal.
Chelsea were encouraged by reports that Liverpool would consider cash plus Anelka for Torres, seeing that as a sign that Liverpool’s owner, Fenway Sports Group, was prepared to sanction the departure of the club’s leading scorer. Liverpool, however, maintain that Torres is not for sale and they spent yesterday trying to convince the centre-forward that their plans tally with his ambitions; ambitions he feels have been undermined by a lack of spending on top-class players in recent years and which resulted in his official transfer request on Friday.
Torres returned to Liverpool’s training ground today following a short break in Spain and he spent over seven hours at Melwood, accompanied by his representatives. He also trained for the first time since stunning Kenny Dalglish and the Liverpool squad with the timing of his transfer request, but he did so alone.
Chelsea have yet to agree a fee with Liverpool over the player whom Roman Abramovich hopes will revitalise their title defence and enhance his chances of bringing the Champions League trophy to London. Negotiations will continue on deadline day, with Chelsea hopeful that Liverpool’s asking price will drop to as low as £37m as 11pm approaches, although that appears unlikely. A £35m bid was rejected out of hand by FSG on Thursday and Liverpool’s owner views the signing of Suárez as a way to provide support for Torres, not to name his replacement.
Despite Liverpool’s official stance on Torres they have made preparations to rebuild in the event of his departure, whether that takes place tomorrow or in the summer. A £22.8m fee was agreed with Ajax for Suárez on Friday, with Liverpool having raised their offer by £10m, and the Uruguay international will finalise the transfer tomorrow having passed a medical and agreed personal terms over the weekend.
Liverpool are also expected to return to Blackpool with an offer for Adam that could rise to £10m as they attempt to conclude a protracted and contentious transfer of the Scotland international. Adam, like Torres, has had a transfer request rejected by his current employers but he hopes that Liverpool’s third and final bid – they have failed with a £4m offer and a £6.5m offer that was submitted on Friday – will convince Blackpool to sell, at the risk of their Premier League survival.
The Anfield club have not given up hope of buying Young from Aston Villa although their hopes of signing the England international for a fee of around £18m are remote and Young may in any case only be a back-up, in the event that Torres leaves.
John W Henry, Liverpool’s principal owner, is believed to have called his compatriot and opposite number at Villa Park, Randy Lerner, at the weekend to enquire about Young’s availability. He was informed that the Midlanders have no intention of selling their prize asset during this transfer window.
Chelsea are still engaged in the pursuit of the Benfica defender David Luiz and will attempt to complete a £25.5m deal for the Brazilian today. The deal for Luiz faltered on Friday, when Benfica announced that they had been unable to reach agreement over how the £25.5m fee would be paid. There were no further negotiations over the weekend but Chelsea intend to make a revised offer in order to bolster their defensive options.
The Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti, refused to discuss potential new signings following his side’s FA Cup draw at Everton on Saturday, and claimed he would not be troubled by a failure to add to his squad this month.
“We won the double last year with these players and we will try to do the same this year with the same players,” the Italian said.