At around 9pm last night, to some LFC fans, the world turned with this announcement from the club.
“Fernando Torres tonight submitted a written transfer request, which has been rejected by Liverpool.
“Fernando is under a 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.”
Even to those fans who have been following the disastrous previous regime at Anfield in recent years will have seen this as a shock. While many clued up fans will have expected a potential departure in the summer, to hand in a transfer request would have been seen as a huge shock and betrayal. The fact it came hours after a fee was agreed over a substantial transfer in, signalling intent on behalf of the new owners, and the fact it was to Chelsea – a club hardly storming all around them was even worse.
The timing on Chelsea’s behalf is perfect. They do not want to enter a bidding war with other major Premier League and European clubs, and if they buy now, the deal will not come under the terms of UEFA’s financial fair play rules which will be monitoring revenue and debt for the three years from this summer.
Liverpool value the player at far more than the £40M quoted by Chelsea. In fact, a clause exists that is only active in the summer and if LFC fail to qualify for the Champions League, whereby £50M is enough to force LFC to have to sell.
If LFC were to take the money now it could have huge implications for our own Financial Fair Play rules in the future too.
So what happens now?
Chelsea will likely come in with an increased bid, but Chelsea are by no means certain to qualify for the Champions League themselves. Should Liverpool sell them a player who could help them achieve this aim, and possibly, maybe at LFC’s expense?
Should Liverpool sell him to a rival club, or keep him – even if he is angry, bitter and whiny for the rest of the season?
It’s a difficult one and we have sympathy for the new owners, who even after removing Hodgson still appear to be dealing with some of the huge problems left by Christian Purslow and Hicks and Gillett.
When Steven Gerrard flirted with Chelsea, twice, we felt at the time it was a scandal that the reds allowed him to remain Captain. But most fans hailed him when he decided to commit. The feeling in recent weeks has been a feel-good one for Liverpool fans. Looking better on the pitch, free of debt and the previous owners, and bringing in one of European Football’s most lethal strikers. This flirtation with Chelsea has come at precisely the wrong time for LFC fans, and Fernando will no doubt feel the backlash.
Sadly, it smacks of utter disrespect to Liverpool FC and it’s fans, and the vast majority of supporters are unlikely to forgive Fernando for this self-centred attack on the club.
Torres has been off colour for 18 months, but the fans have stuck by him and supported him. It appears that ultimately Torres is no different from the likes of Rooney, or Tevez, and a whole host of other players idolised by millions but none more so than themselves.
LFC fans have reason to be optimistic for the future. If Torres never plays for Liverpool again then I won’t be losing any sleep. Better players than Nando have left Liverpool and gone on to be replaced by even better players again.
Selling Fernando Torres now suits Chelsea and Torres himself. Keeping him until the summer suits Liverpool FC.
Strong leadership is needed from the Liverpool board and manager as they navigate through an exceptionally tricky period.