Will Torres Turns From Red To Blue?

Fernando Torres has told Liverpool he wants to join Chelsea as Roman Abramovich prepares an improved offer to sign the Spain striker before Monday’s transfer deadline. Torres, 26, has made up his mind it is time to leave Merseyside and is attracted to Stamford Bridge after assurances that Chelsea owner Abramovich plans to inject more money into the team.

A Liverpool spokesman said last night, "Fernando Torres has submitted a written transfer request, which has been rejected. Fernando is under long-term contract and the club expect him to honour the commitment he made to Liverpool FC and its supporters." Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish does not want to be the man who lets Torres leave Anfield, but despite their defiant statement, the signs are that Liverpool’s board will sanction the move if Chelsea offer £45million, plus striker Daniel Sturridge.

The development rocked Anfield on a day when the club broke their transfer record by spending £22.8m on Ajax striker Luis Suarez. Torres has been left disillusioned by broken promises made to keep him at the club last summer.

Chelsea are aware of his restlessness and of a verbal agreement with Liverpool’s previous regime that he would be allowed to move on if a reasonable bid was received. Abramovich made a £28m offer last week and increased it to £35m on Thursday, with the news breaking conveniently just as Liverpool players, already out of the FA Cup, were embarking on a two-day break. Chelsea will return with a third offer before Monday’s deadline, with Sturridge included in part exchange.

Liverpool have made it clear they will not negotiate at anything less than £50m. But Roman Abramovich is tempted to go to the asking price because he realises there is only a small window of opportunity when Chelsea are the clear favourites in the race. Barcelona and Manchester City would both be interested in the summer, which would drive up the price.

Liverpool, who have increased their offer for Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam to £6m, would prefer Torres to see out the season with them and hope the arrival of Suarez might allay fears about the ambition of the club under their new owners.

Director of football strategy Damien Comolli flew to Amsterdam yesterday to complete the Suarez transfer, subject to a medical. The Dutch league’s top scorer last season, with 35 goals in 33 games, is expected to sign a contract worth around £80,000 a week, with Liverpool keen to stress he has not been signed to replace Torres.

However, the Spaniard feels promises made last summer have already been broken. He agreed to stay at Anfield after the exit of Rafa Benitez and amid interest from Chelsea and Manchester City in June under assurances from Roy Hodgson that the team would be rebuilt. It has not unfolded the way he envisaged, with Hodgson sacked, few quality signings made and the team again struggling to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Dalglish’s arrival as temporary manager has lifted Torres’s form but may prove too little too late.

If he was to sign for Chelsea, his first home game would probably be against Liverpool a week later. The key will be whether Liverpool’s new owners accept there is no point keeping an unhappy player and acknowledge the agreement struck by their predecessors, or dig in their heels to keep Torres. Abramovich has made it clear, through agents, he is committed to bankrolling Chelsea to compete against Europe’s best. Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti refused to discuss Torres yesterday, saying, "I only speak about my players."

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