Liverpool rejects Torres transfer request
Liverpool rejected Fernando Torres' transfer request on Friday as English Premier League rival Chelsea pursued the Spanish striker.
The 26-year-old, who is under contract until 2013, stunned Liverpool by demanding to leave a day after a 35-million-pound US$56-million bid from Chelsea was turned down.
The request came as owner John Henry signalled Liverpool's intent in the transfer market by clinching a deal on Friday to buy another striker, Luis Suarez, from Ajax for up to US$36 million.
Manager Kenny Dalglish will be hoping he has both Torres and Suarez available for selection for Premier League matches next week at Stoke —and Chelsea.
"Fernando Torres tonight submitted a written transfer request, which has been rejected by Liverpool," a club announced in a statement. "Fernando is under long-term contract and the club expect him to honour the commitment he made to Liverpool FC and its supporters when he signed the agreement."
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti wouldn't discuss the English champions' interest in Torres earlier Friday.
"He's not my player and I have to have respect for Liverpool," Ancelotti said. "This is the reason I don't like to speak ... the club is trying to do everything to improve the squad."
Amid apparent interest from Chelsea in Torres last August, the player eventually committed his future to Liverpool and declared: "(My) loyalty to the club and to the fans is the same as it was on my first day when I signed."
A club-record US$40.6 million brought Torres to Anfield in 2007 from Atletico Madrid.
He has struggled with injuries since returning from Spain's World Cup triumph last July, contributing to Liverpool's poor start to the season, which cost Roy Hodgson his job as manager.
Liverpool is seventh in the Premier League, nine points behind Chelsea in the fourth Champions League spot, although before back-to-back victories the team had been closer to the relegation zone.
Torres is the third leading striker this season in England to try to leave their club. But Manchester United held onto Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez was made to honour his contract at Manchester City.
Torres' new demand represents the first major setback for Dalglish, who was brought back as manager this month to replace Hodgson by Henry's Fenway Sports Group.
But there was good news on Friday, with Liverpool being given permission by Ajax to discuss personal terms with Suarez, who has scored 111 goals in 159 matches since joining Ajax in 2007.
While the transfer fee has been agreed, the 24-year-old forward still has to pass a medical examination.
Suarez was one of the stars of last year's World Cup, scoring three goals for Uruguay. But his scoring prowess was overshadowed by his deliberate handball on the line in the dying seconds of the quarterfinal against Ghana. He prevented a goal, Asamoah Gyan missed the ensuing spot kick, and Uruguay then went through on penalties.
Suarez is banned from playing in the Netherlands until Feb. 4 after receiving a seven-match ban for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal.