The big news today (Friday 28/1) is that Chelsea have had a bid, reportedly £35m, rejected for Fernando Torres. The club have said he’s not for sale, but the indications from Torres’s representatives are that he wants to go.
I’d like to make one thing clear at the start of this post. I am about as big a Fernando Torres fan as there is. He’s easily the best striker Liverpool have had in my lifetime, better than Rush, Fowler, Owen etc. I’d also say he’s probably the best striker in the history of the club. He is blessed with pace and more importantly, explosive acceleration, he’s tough enough to withstand some of the brutal treatment opposing defences mete out to him and he is the most lethal finisher I’ve ever seen.
He also seems to be a genuinely nice guy. He’s a low-key person who prefers to stay out of the spotlight off the pitch and seems to prefer the quiet family life to a public life. He has a great relationship with the fans, we love him and he reciprocates.
However, should the right offer came in for him say £55-60m, (I’ve yet to see any proof that there is, as reported, an ‘escape’ clause of £50m in Torres’ contract). I’d sell him in an instant. I believe that every player, no matter how good, is replaceable. Torres is no different. He’s an amazing player, but goals are a replaceable, albeit expensive, commodity and we can find someone else to score them.
It’s been an open secret in English football that Chelsea have wanted Torres for some time. They’ve bid for him before. What was maybe a surprise about Chelsea’s bid is that it was publicly rejected by Liverpool. Usually these bids are either revealed by the interested party or a leaked out through the press. This was a statement from the club.
While Liverpool’s current (public) stance is that Torres is not for sale, that’s a line that clubs have trotted out countless times in the past only for the player to be sold soon after. It happened on Monday with Ryan Babel. In the morning he was staying at the club, in the evening, he was sold. So maybe that statement's real meaning was ‘to any club interested in Torres, you’d better offer us a high number with a lot of zeroes’.
That’s not an unreasonable demand either. He’s locked under contract. He’s not asked to go (yet), just that offers coming in are considered. The club isn’t desperate for the money and would be more than happy if he stayed. So Liverpool would be looking for a huge fee and will probably get it.
I don’t think that Torres’ value will increase too much from what it currently is. He’s suffered from niggling hamstring and ankle injuries in the last few seasons that seem to take longer and longer for him to recover from each time. He will probably in the future lose a bit of pace from the punishment he’s taken from defenders (not to mention the back problems from carrying Liverpool’s attack single-handed for years!). So if Liverpool want to sell high, then they’ll have to do so sooner rather than later.
The reason why I’d sell is because for that amount of money, you could buy three, maybe four very good players who could instantly improve the team. I’d take four very good players over one exceptional player any time.
There are fans upset at the prospect at selling Torres to another EPL side. However, if you think about it, there aren’t many clubs with deep enough pockets to buy him anywhere other than in England. Barcelona have major financial problems so probably wouldn’t be able to raise that kind of money. Also, there’s a question of do they need him? With David Villa and Lionel Messi scoring goals galore it’s hard to see them making a serious move for Torres. Real Madrid would want him, but as a lifelong Atletico fan, it’s doubtful he’d want to go there. None of the Bundesliga or Serie A teams have that sort of spending power so it seems to be Manchester City or Chelsea. With City having just signed Dzeko, it’s hard to imagine them going after Torres so it looks like Chelsea or nothing.
At the time of writing, Liverpool have agreed a fee with Ajax (the BBC has it at £23m, I heard a Dutch journalist say £17m) for Luis Suarez. So, the question is, has Suarez been signed to compliment Torres, or replace him?
The timing is a problem. Torres’ agent is hinting that he wants the club to consider any offers for him. With only a few days to go until the transfer window shuts, Liverpool would be scrambling around for a replacement and having to deal with clubs overinflating their prices as they know Liverpool have the money to spend.
That could mean a nightmarish situation arises where Suarez (if he does in fact sign) has to carry the attack. He will need time to settle in and it may be next season before he starts to prove his worth. Strikers coming from playing in The Netherlands to the EPL are also notoriously hit-and-miss. The Eredivisie is a pretty open and attacking league so the amount of goals they rack up can be misleading. For every Ruud van Nistlerooy there’s been an Afonso Alves. For every Robin Van Persie there’s a Mateja Kezman. So it’s hard to say if Suarez will succeed or not and his chances of succeeding would be increased if he wasn't having to carry the attack single-handed.
So we could end up with a striker trying to find his feet in a new country, David ‘couldn’t hit a barn door’ N’Gog and Dirk ‘couldn’t hit a barn’ Kuyt as the only striking options. Clearly the best option for Liverpool is to try and stall any move for Torres until the summer but the club may have their hand forced and have to sell now.
There are a lot of weaknesses in the Liverpool team at the minute. Selling Torres would allow the club to build a better, more balanced team. If it was up to me, I’d buy Steven Defour, Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Best. Name. Ever.), James Morrison and Simon Kjaer to fill the holes in the squad, and there’d probably still be a large amount of money left over.
Liverpool are currently a team in transition. We are trying to rebuild a squad in decline to become competitive again. Selling Fernando Torres may look like a backwards step on the face of it. But I believe that it will allow the club to take two steps forward. While Torres, and his goals, will be missed, if his sale allows the club to improve and progress, the
sacrifice will be worth it.
Update: As always, my timing was terrible. About an hour after I wrote this, it was announced by Liverpool they had rejected a written transfer request from Torres!