Nearly there: Torres bids farewell to Atletico

Fernando Torres has said his farewells to the Atletico
Madrid fans he was so fond of and is heading for Liverpool to sign his six-year
contract with The Reds. He passed his medical yesterday but wanted that
opportunity to explain his decision before he put pen to paper. Liverpool have
called a press conference for 3.00 this afternoon to unveil the new number nine.

Speculation still surrounds the amount of the fee, which is
believed to be just £20m, not the £26.5m quoted elsewhere, but either way it is
a club record, beating the £14m Liverpool paid for another number nine, Djibril
Cisse in 2004. That transfer was completed after Rafa Benítez arrived, but had
already been committed to by the club prior to Gerard Houllier’s departure and
had nothing to do with Rafa.

This time Rafa is delighted, although there are stories that
it was the Torres camp that made the first move, letting it be known to
Liverpool that he wanted to move on. Atletico have only qualified for the Inter
Toto and Torres wanted a chance to play in the Champions League. The story also
goes that he didn’t even consider the idea of joining any club other than
Liverpool – it was Liverpool or nobody.

Torres said during his farewell messages that he was a
wrench to leave Atletico, but that he thought he just had to take on this new challenge:
“It has been a difficult decision to leave my all-time club, but it would have
been hard for me to reject Liverpool’s offer. It’s a big leap for me and I
think it was the right thing for everyone. The time comes in a player’s life
that he needs more challenges. I have always done what was best for the club,

He confirmed in his message that Liverpool were the only
club he would leave Atletico for: “The Liverpool offer arrived and I told the
club to only listen to that offer because that is the team I wanted to play
for. It’s one of the best, if not the best, clubs in Europe.”

He’s also proud to be given the number nine shirt, the shirt
he wore for Atletico and Spain, and the number he has in a tattoo: “The fact
that Liverpool are giving me the number nine jersey just goes to show the
confidence they have placed in me, when you consider those who have worn that
shirt before me.”

He’s ready to put the work into adapting to the differences
between Spanish and English football: “A beautiful new adventure begins for me
and I hope that with work and effort I can be among the best players. This is a
unique opportunity for me: Liverpool aim high with everything and that has been
an important factor in my decision to go there. I want to adapt as quickly as
possible. I think Premiership football is a football that fits well with my
style. I will arrive with a lot of joy and full of ambition.”

As for Atletico, Torres was saddened to be leaving, and says
his heart will always be with the Rojiblancos (Red and Whites) whatever
happens: “I will always feel at home at Atletico. I am proud of what I achieved
here; my heart will always be Rojiblanco regardless of where I go. I want to
thank the fans, who have shown a lot of support over the years. It has been a
pleasure for me. I hope to return one day.”

The Atletico management were desperate that Torres told
supporters it was his own choice to go, fearing more protests otherwise. Torres
said that despite being sad to leave he had no guilt about moving on: “My conscience
is clear with what I have achieved. I believe this is a good decision for me
and for the club. I hope that those who come here after me will do what we
haven’t been able to do.”