Kenny Dalglish has told Fernando Torres that he will not be sold in the January transfer window, even though the striker has asked to leave Liverpool and join Chelsea, who are preparing an improved offer this weekend.
he club last night revealed that they had rejected an official transfer request from the Spaniard and are determined not to sell before the transfer window closes on Monday.
"Fernando Torres submitted a written transfer request which has been rejected," the club said on their website late last night. "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."
Torres has urged Liverpool to open negotiations with Chelsea, who are planning to increase their initial cash bid of just £28m -- not, as had been thought, £35m -- and offer striker Daniel Sturridge. The revelation may also lead to a backlash against the striker which could, ironically, lead to his exit.
Torres outlined his feelings to Liverpool in a meeting on Thursday, after Chelsea's bid was rejected and made it clear that he wants to go. This has irritated the Merseyside club, who are adamant they will not sell.
Chelsea are insistent that they want to buy Torres now rather than in the summer -- when Liverpool may be willing to sell as they will have more time to rebuild -- having been given the encouragement from the Spaniard.
Talks with middle men are believed to have taken place with his representatives earlier this week, which led to Chelsea lodging a formal offer, which was promptly rejected. However, Chelsea do not believe this is the end of the matter and remain hopeful that they can land the 26-year-old before the transfer window closes on Monday.
That would appear highly unlikely, with Dalglish -- Liverpool's manager until the end of the season -- having told Torres, the club's owners (Fenway Sports Group) and Chelsea's negotiators that the player is emphatically not for sale.
Liverpool have backed this stance in a statement, but there is a sense from Chelsea that the £23m signing of Luis Suarez may open the way for the sale, especially as they are prepared to include Sturridge as a makeweight.
Liverpool made inquiries about the 21-year-old striker earlier this season and it is understood that Sturridge wants to leave, having grown frustrated at his limited opportunities.
Liverpool have dismissed this scenario, insisting that they want Suarez to play alongside Torres, rather than replace him and, given the team's improvement under Dalglish, it is unthinkable that the manager will be undermined now.
Chelsea had hoped he would make a public statement of his desire to leave last summer, when they also bid for him, but it was made clear to Torres that he could not leave while the club were being sold, and the player stopped short of airing his feelings - although last night's revelations have now changed that.
Instead, last summer, he reaffirmed his commitment to Liverpool, although it is understood he has grown frustrated by a continued lack of investment. However, the club will hope that the signing of Suarez is sufficient evidence of spending on the team.
Chelsea are certainly acting under some encouragement that their bids will be successful and are not considering any other transfer targets for this window beyond Torres and the ongoing saga of David Luiz's move from Benfica.
Chelsea's negotiators last night brushed off a statement by Benfica to the Portuguese Stock Exchange that negotiations had broken down. This not only contradicted what the Lisbon club had said on Thursday but also what Chelsea believe, having reached an agreement in principle to buy the 23-year-old Brazilian defender on Monday evening for £21m cash plus a player valued at £4m.
Chelsea offered midfielder Nemanja Matic but, after a wrangle over the payment schedule, Benfica have now demanded Salomon Kalou, who is not for sale.
Chelsea have obtained a work permit for Luiz and he was set to fly to London yesterday before being told to return to his club. "It's not dead," said one Chelsea source. "We still think it could happen."
Luiz has been manager Carlo Ancelotti's priority. Although he knows that -- if he stays as Chelsea manager after this season -- he has to overhaul his strikeforce, he had intended to see out of the campaign with Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, who are both in their thirties.
Anelka would be under threat if Torres were to sign, while Chelsea have also discussed moves for Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez over the past few months after the two players expressed their desire to leave their clubs.
Yesterday, Ancelotti spoke ahead of today's FA Cup tie away to Everton and was clearly uncomfortable at being questioned over Torres.
"If you don't want to speak about Everton I can go to lunch," he said. "I don't want to speak about this (Torres). You have to ask the club. I have to respect Liverpool. He's not my player. This is the reason I don't want to speak as Torres is not my player so I don't want to say what the club are doing at the moment. The same with Luiz."
Ancelotti, however, denied suggestions that he was not involved in the bid for Torres. "When we try to do something, we (the club) speak together and make the decision. I knew about the bid," he said. "Every time when there is a possibility to find a better player for this club we will try. I don't need to explain when we move."
The Italian insisted that the late move for Torres was not made out of "desperation" but conceded that, for now, it remained only a "dream" that he would play for Chelsea. The dream last night moved closer to reality. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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