Chelsea will return with an improved £40m offer for Fernando Torres with the Premier League champions hopeful of closing the deal before Monday's deadline after the striker last night confirmed his desire to quit Liverpool by submitting a transfer request.
Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, is prepared to add the young striker Daniel Sturridge as a makeweight in the new bid, which will follow the £35m that was rejected by Liverpool yesterday. Chelsea intend to push hard for what would be a stunning coup and have been encouraged both by Torres's actions – although Liverpool have rejected his transfer request – and by his employers agreeing a £22.8m deal with Ajax for Luis Suárez this afternoon.
The Suárez fee, which will place him second to Torres as the most expensive signing in Liverpool's history, represents a £10m increase on the offer that Ajax rejected earlier this week.
Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool's owners, hope the signing of the Uruguay international, who has still to complete a medical and agree personal terms, will convince Torres of their ambitions and they remain adamant that their leading goalscorer is not for sale. Liverpool said in a statement last night: "Fernando Torres tonight submitted a written transfer request, which has been rejected by Liverpool. Fernando is under long-term contract and the club expects him to honour the commitment he made to Liverpool FC and its supporters when he signed the agreement."
However, the 26-year-old has reached the point where he believes a departure from Anfield is the right move for his career and does not want to miss a second opportunity to join Chelsea. He has urged FSG to broker an agreement that is good for both himself and the club.
Chelsea's move carries an opportunistic edge. They tried to sign Torres last summer, only for Liverpool to put a prohibitive price tag on him. Chelsea were mindful that Manchester City were also after the Spaniard. Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, was not prepared to enter into an auction. That remains the case.
But with City having signed Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg for £27m earlier in the month, Chelsea feel they might have a clear shot at Torres now. Hence their determination to get him during this transfer window rather than wait until the summer, when City and others might re-enter the bidding. A footnote to the intrigue is that, if Torres does sign for Chelsea, his debut could be against Liverpool, who play at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Sunday week.
"Every time, when there is a possibility to find a better player for this club, we will try," Ancelotti said. "I don't need to explain when we move. When we try to do something, we speak together and make the decision. I knew about the bid. I'm not surprised because I know what the club is doing. The club is doing a fantastic job in this transfer market. It is trying to do everything to improve the squad."
Another factor in Chelsea's late move for the Spain international is the £50m release clause he was granted by Liverpool last summer. Sources close to Torres have denied such a clause exists and, in this transfer window, that is correct. It is understood the clause comes into effect this summer, providing Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League.
Kenny Dalglish's side are currently nine points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, having played one game more, and any suitor would have to pay £50m to release Torres from a £110,000-a-week contract that runs until 2013 should they remain outside the top four.
Torres sought assurances last summer, when he knew Chelsea and City were circling, that he could leave in the event of another disappointing season. Those discussions were held with the then managing director, Christian Purslow, who has now left the club, and ultimately led to the striker's pledging his loyalty to Liverpool.
Torres, the former Atlético Madrid captain, also wanted assurances over the future of the club and what funds were available for rebuilding the squad when Liverpool were bought by the new owners. His camp believes that promises have been broken.
Liverpool are not the club that Torres joined in 2007. The striker is pessimistic over the future and his patience has worn thin. Roy Hodgson's departure and the appointment of Dalglish as manager, though steps in the right direction, are evidently not enough to ease Torres's misgivings.
Despite the recognition that Liverpool could block the move Torres believes an immediate departure is the best solution. If he were to join Chelsea, he would be eligible to play in the Champions League. He is hopeful of Liverpool recognising that his departure could be good for all concerned. Liverpool signed him for £23m; with a little bartering they could make more than £20m profit by selling now.