Rafa Benítez, Tom Hicks and the player himself have all said today that Liverpool striker Fernando Torres is not for sale, despite the latest set of claims that Chelsea were planning to break the world record to sign him.
Reds manager Rafa told the Liverpool Echo: “The situation is very simple. We do not want to sell Fernando Torres. If a player does a good job for his team, like Fernando has for us, then it is sometimes easy for people to speculate that he might be wanted by other clubs.”
According to Rafa, Chelsea haven’t made any offer yet, but even if they did the answer would be firm rejection: “I am not aware of any offer being made by Chelsea but even if there was my answer would be the same. He is not for sale.”
Rafa’s will make changes to his squad this summer, but isn’t planning on letting any of the higher quality members leave: “We are trying to add to the spine of our team and that means keeping players like Fernando, Javier Mascherano, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.”
Torres has arguably become Liverpool’s most popular player after a debut season where he took little time to settle. He signed a six year contract for Liverpool when he left the club he’d grown up at, Atlético Madrid, and has made it clear on numerous occasions how happy he is at Anfield. His performances for Liverpool have strengthened his place in the international set-up for Spain, who he’s on duty with now ahead of Euro 2008. Speaking from Spain the Liverpool number 9 dismissed the latest claims: “I am enjoying my time at Liverpool, although I would prefer to forget the transfer talk for now and concentrate on Euro 2008, which is my primary concern at the moment. I will go away on holiday once the tournament has finished and will then return to Liverpool.”
Co-owner Tom Hicks said in an email to the Telegraph that there isn’t any price that would tempt the club to sell Torres: “We would never consider it.” The Telegraph said that asked if he thought the story was being used by Chelsea as a smokescreen to protect them from their owner’s ruthless sacking of Avram Grant, Hicks replied “absolutely”.
A spokesman for Hicks also added in that the claim was “beyond comprehension” and “ludicrous”. Speaking to the Mirror, the spokesman said: “It is simply beyond comprehension. There is no circumstance in which Torres will be sold. Why would the owners invest so much money in supporting the manager, to then undermine that support? It is ludicrous.”
When Chelsea came close in 2005 to successfully poaching Steven Gerrard the difference was that Gerrard had himself been undecided on what he wanted to do with his future. Allegations were made that he’d been “tapped up” by Chelsea but the constant press claims of Chelsea interest ensured there was no doubt about their desire to sign him. After finding Rick Parry had gone on holiday instead of getting his new contract sorted out, Gerrard decided to join Chelsea, deciding only at the 11th hour to change his mind again. But Torres is completely happy at Anfield, and tapping-up attempts are extremely unlikely to unsettle the player. If this story has come from a quote given to the Daily Mail by a Chelsea official, then it really does have the hallmarks of a club desperately trying to deflect attention away from their owners’ latest controversial decision to axe a manager.
Liverpool fans will be bouncing to the Fernando Torres tune for some time to come yet.