An injury to Fernando Torres late into Sunday’s World Cup Final between Spain and Holland may further confuse the striker’s future, with Chelsea hoping he will ask Liverpool to consider offers for him when he returns from holiday.
Torres cut a forlorn figure after he was left out of the starting line-up by Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque - and did not even warm-up with the rest of the substitutes - but he came on at the start of the second-half of extra-time to replace David Villa as his country’s lone striker.
However as he chased down a long ball forward he pulled up suddenly, feeling his groin, before collapsing on the turf in apparent agony. He was eventually stretchered off. It capped a miserable tournament for Torres, although he was involved in the build-up to Andres Iniesta’s winning goal, and there will now be frantic concern over the extent of the injury and whether it might place his hope for a summer move to Chelsea in jeopardy.
Torres did manage to collect his winners’ medal and join his team-mates on a lap of honour but he was clearly in some discomfort and given his constant record of injuries, which has been an issue for him throughout his career then it will be a concern to any potential buyer.
Chelsea are leading the chase for the 27-year-old and are set to open the bidding, hoping that Torres will ask for a move although he may fall short of handing in a transfer request. They remain confident that Torres wants to join them and may, eventually, offer up to £50 million for him.
However this would fall short of Liverpool’s valuation for Torres which is believed to be closer to £70 million. At the same time it’s understood that, significantly, Liverpool is already actively looking at alternatives should Torres eventually be sold.
Contact is believed to have been made with the German club Wolfsburg, now managed by Steve McClaren, over the future of their striker Edin Dzeko who is believed to be admired by Liverpool’s new manager Roy Hodgson.
Negotiations for the Bosnian, who has previously also attracted interest from Chelsea, to move to Manchester City are at an advanced stage although a fee is yet to be agreed.
If Liverpool were to sell Torres for £50 million or more then it would give them the funds to purchase Dzeko and although they would not be able to out-bid City it could well be that the 23-year-old would prefer a move to the Merseyside club.
The sale of Torres would also provide Hodgson - who has stated he wants to keep the striker and intends to hold talks with him when he returns from holiday, if not before - with further funds to strengthen his squad as he goes about re-shaping his team for the new season. That could be bolstered with Javier Mascherano, who may hand in a transfer request, also pushing for a move.
City had hoped that they might strike an agreement with Torres but although they retain interest they also accept that the failure to qualify for the Champions League has severely damaged their chances. Instead they have concentrated on trying to sign Dzeko or, if that bid fails, to secure Inter Milan’s Mario Balotelli.
Torres has been cagey over his future throughout the World Cup, declaring that he wants to hear from Hodgson over his plans for Liverpool before he decides what he wants to do. Earlier this year Torres made clear that he wanted the club to strengthen significantly this summer but they have to generate funds first.
The player is believed to want to stay in England, unless there is a bid made for him by Barcelona who he regards as the only other club he would consider moving too. He has told friends that he wants to now be challenging for major trophies and is desperate to win the Champions League.