Saturday 27 May 2017

Hodgson hangs on to hope of keeping Torres

Liverpool's new signing Joe Cole and manager Roy Hodgson (left) during the unveiling at Anfield yesterday. Photo: PA
Liverpool's new signing Joe Cole and manager Roy Hodgson (left) during the unveiling at Anfield yesterday. Photo: PA

Rory Smith

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has staked much of his summer planning on Fernando Torres spurning interest from Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester City to remain at Anfield for at least one more year.

The 26-year-old's future has been shrouded in doubt, after he repeatedly expressed his concerns over the possible impact on Liverpool's performance of the £237m debt placed on the club by owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Liverpool's managing director Christian Purslow has spent much of the last two weeks attempting to convince the Spanish international -- who arrived at Anfield for a record £20m in 2007 -- to stay, despite the fact that a lucrative £70m offer is expected from the Spanish champions.

Roberto Mancini last week suggested that City, too, hoped to profit from the striker's disaffection with a big-money bid.

Hodgson was sanguine when asked about Liverpool's hopes of retaining Torres over the weekend, implying he had done all he could to persuade him to stay, but yesterday his mood was far more bullish.

"As far as I know, Fernando is looking forward to coming back here," Hodgson said. "He is back on Monday. He is enjoying a holiday, a well-deserved break as he has not had one for three years.

"He is spending a lot of time with his family, keeping a low profile and, as far as I know, he is not really speaking to anyone. He has told us that he is looking forward to getting back to work and to playing for Liverpool next season. That is what I know so other reports, I would suggest, are erroneous."

Chelsea, though, are still likely to test the resolve of both club and player with a bid of about £50m, and doubts will remain until Torres makes his views public.

Javier Mascherano, at least, has made his intentions clear. The Argentina captain is determined to be reunited with former manager Rafael Benitez at European champions Inter Milan and informed Hodgson of his desire to leave when the two met upon his return to Merseyside on Monday.

"Yes, he wants to leave the club," confirmed Hodgson during a press conference held to unveil new signings Milan Jovanovic, Joe Cole and Danny Wilson.

"He has made that perfectly clear. I think he wanted to leave a year ago. He wants to leave now, but he is contracted to Liverpool, so whether he leaves or not will be our decision. Until he is no longer a Liverpool player, I will treat him as one."

Inter, who opened preliminary discussions with Liverpool last week, are likely to lodge a formal bid for the former West Ham player when the sales of Mario Balotelli to City and Maicon, the Brazilian right-back, to Real Madrid are completed.

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Mascherano has made it clear his family, particularly his wife Fernanda, have failed to settle in their three years on Merseyside, while he admitted during the World Cup that he had started to learn Italian.

He may be followed out of Anfield by his countrymen Emiliano Insua, who continues to discuss terms with Fiorentina over a £4m move, and Maxi Rodriguez, who has emerged as a possible target for the Spanish side Espanyol.

Meanwhile, reserve-team striker Daniel Pacheco is thought to be close to returning to his homeland with Real Sociedad.

Hodgson, though, is confident of finding replacements whichever players he loses this summer, intimating that he hoped to complete a number of further signings before the transfer window closes.

However, Liverpool have dismissed reports that they are close to agreeing a deal for Royston Drenthe, the Dutch international left-back currently out of favour at Real Madrid. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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