Belfast Telegraph

Flying visit kept Fernando Torres at Liverpool

Fernando Torres has ended speculation over his future by committing himself to Liverpool, citing Roy Hodgson's personal touch and his own commitment to deliver a trophy to Anfield as reasons for staying.

While Manchester City never seriously contemplated bidding for Torres, Chelsea — the only other Premier League club that could raise the £60m Liverpool would demand — had lingering hopes of tempting him to London.

Torres, under contract to 2013 with an option of a further year's extension, was believed to be reluctant to return to Spain; where of the two clubs who could afford him, Barcelona have cash-flow problems while his years with Atletico Madrid meant a move to Real was out of the question.

Unlike Javier Mascherano, who used his first day back at the club's training ground at Melwood to demand a transfer, Torres is settled in Liverpool.

Torres, who recuperated after the World Cup near Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain, said yesterday that Hodgson's determination to fly out to do business face-to-face was important.

“I really appreciated the fact that Roy came to see me while I was on my holidays,” said Torres.

“He told me about his plans for the club, what he wanted from me and I appreciated that.

“This is the best club in the country so the targets and expectations are really high. Hopefully, we can stay at our level. At Liverpool the aim is to fight for every title. It was difficult last season, but I am sure we can improve.”

Torres' decision to commit himself to a fourth season at Anfield barely a day after resuming training is a substantial coup for Hodgson.

Injury has meant that Torres' second and third campaigns on Merseyside were not as influential as his first which saw him score 24 league goals. Nevertheless, his last two seasons have produced 32 goals in 46 matches, strikes that have earned 23 points.

Those close to Torres pointed out that the groin injury sustained in a World Cup in which he failed to contribute a single goal to Spain's triumph, gave him time to reflect on his future. His interna

tional strike partner, David Villa, observed that, unless Hodgson could engineer a dramatic upturn in Liverpool's fortunes, Torres could still leave in 12 months.

“After I spoke to him at the World Cup, I thought he would be signing for Chelsea,” said Villa, who moved from Valencia to Barcelona before the tournament.

“He is happy at Liverpool in every sense apart from the football. He loves the city, the fans and the players, but he will go if he has to. He was promised things at Liverpool that just haven't happened.

“They said they would build a squad that would challenge Manchester United for the title and that hasn't happened. They sold Xabi Alonso last year and they are going to sell Javier Mascherano this summer. This is Liverpool's last chance to keep Nando.”

Nevertheless, like Steven Gerrard, Torres appears to have been impressed by Hodgson's first moves at Anfield, especially the signing of Joe Cole, the announcement of which immediately preceded Gerrard's own statement of loyalty.

“I have been talking to Stevie a lot and I also met with Joe Cole,” said Torres. “Joe is the kind of player I like to play with.”

Belfast Telegraph


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