Liverpool to tell Fernando Torres he's staying at Anfield
Liverpool bosses are set to tell Fernando Torres that they have no intention of selling him this summer and that they plan to resist the offers from Chelsea and Manchester City for the Spanish striker.
Torres's future has been one of the key issues in the arrival of new manager Roy Hodgson and the feeling is that to sell him – no matter what the price – would undermine any hope of success in the coming season. Torres's future is balanced against that of Steven Gerrard whom the club would allow to leave if he asked to do so – and providing that Real Madrid made a suitable offer.
The difference in attitudes towards the two players is because Liverpool feel that they would owe Gerrard the right to play elsewhere after 12 years of loyal service. They do not feel the same debt towards Torres who signed a new five-year contract in May last year. It is accepted that it may be practical to consider a sale of the Spanish international next summer by which time they hope the club will be stabilised under Hodgson.
There are plans to give the player an attractive and innovative commercial deal that the club hope will grant him greater incentive to stay. But the key element in Liverpool's favour is Torres's long-term contract that means even if he is sold next summer he would still attract a considerable price.
While the latest financial results in May for Kop Football Holdings, Liverpool's parent company, revealed debts of around £473m for the previous financial year, the club still believe that with their new £81m Standard Chartered shirt sponsorship deal they remain attractive to potential buyers. Retaining Torres is key to the strategy of the club's American owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks.
Hodgson said yesterday that he expected both Torres and Gerrard to stay at the club and planned to meet with the former soon after the World Cup final on Sunday. The club do not expect Torres, 26, to make life difficult for them when they outline their intentions to keep him at Anfield for another season.
In contrast to Torres, Liverpool have virtually given up on Javier Mascherano and are likely to sell him to Barcelona this summer. The Argentine was not even mentioned yesterday by Hodgson, who talked about his determination to hold onto Gerrard and Torres. There have also been suggestions that Hodgson could be interested in bringing Peter Crouch back to Anfield, having tried to sign him for Fulham last summer.
Hodgson said: "Obviously Steven and Jamie [Carragher] are the playing heartbeat of the club and it's very important we keep people like that with us. I anticipate there might be a situation where other big clubs will try to sign Steven, but he gave no indication [when he met with Gerrard] that he wanted to leave. Nobody at the club wants him to go so I will be doing my utmost to make sure he stays. I am confident he will.
"Fernando is a wonderful striker and I understand the fans' concerns about his future. Unfortunately with the World Cup still on, I won't be able to meet him face to face for another few weeks. That's just circumstance and you won't hear me complaining about it.
"When I do meet him, I will be doing everything I possibly can to convince him that Liverpool is the place to be. If he sees progress, I am confident he won't want to go anywhere else. I think he understands the club and the city."
The Dutch striker Dirk Kuyt, who will be on the opposing side to Torres if selected on Sunday, said that he had no intentions of leaving the club. "It was a really long season at Liverpool and mentally it has been tough. You play for Liverpool to win trophies and it did not happen.
"Of course [I want to stay]. Liverpool is a great club with a great history. Unfortunately in my four years I haven't won anything with Liverpool. Hopefully in the future I still have a chance to win something. We will have to see what happens. Hopefully the manager wants me to stay."
Torres is by no means certain of a place in the Spain starting XI for the World Cup final against Holland on Sunday having been dropped by Vicente del Bosque for the semi-final against Germany. The Spain coach said that he had not told Torres privately that he would be on the bench and that the striker found out at the same time as his team-mates when the side was announced before the game.
"It was a difficult decision," Del Bosque said. "Torres is a lovely guy and I didn't talk to him before I announced the line-up. He is a very important part of the team. I don't know if he will be in the line-up for the final, but I do know he is one of the key members of the squad."
Who Hodgson must keep
Liverpool's determination to hang on to Fernando Torres is matched by a need to keep hold of several other big names:
Roy Hodgson has wasted little time in proclaiming his desire to keep the inspirational captain. However, after a dozen years' service for the club, Liverpool feel they would reluctantly have to let him go if Real Madrid came calling.
Few players have been as consistent as the Spanish goalkeeper during his five years at the club and Hodgson would be loathe to spend time during a vital close season seeking to replace such a reliable servant.
Struggled at times last season following his £18m move from Portsmouth, but the right-back provides much-needed pace in a somewhat static defence and fits in with Hodgson's favoured game-plan of using width.