Sunday 17 December 2017

Two clubs, four players £134m

Andy Carroll has been signed to replace Fernando Torres at Liverpool. Photo: Getty Images
Andy Carroll has been signed to replace Fernando Torres at Liverpool. Photo: Getty Images

Jason Burt

The British transfer record was smashed twice yesterday when Fernando Torres joined Chelsea and Andy Carroll signed for Liverpool as the window closed in an unprecedented avalanche of big-deal activity.

Between them the two clubs spent close to £134m in just one day, with Chelsea finally signing David Luiz for £25m and Luis Suarez's £23m move to Liverpool in a five-and-a-half-year deal ratified before the 11pm deadline.

That £134m total is far more than was spent in the rest of the month combined and in last year's transfer window.

Liverpool were still trying to acquire Charlie Adam from Blackpool late last night but failed to prise the midfielder away from Bloomfield Road, even after doubling their initial £4m bid, and there were claims that Chelsea had bid for Everton's Johnny Heitinga and St-Etienne winger Dimitri Payet.

Chelsea host Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday and although Torres will be expected to make his debut, Carroll is injured and will not play.

The trigger for it all was a decision by one man: Roman Abramovich. The Russian billionaire decided to take the initiative and, as one well-placed source said, "get things sorted" as he tried to instantly make Chelsea competitive again and ensure they qualify for the Champions League.

It was highlighted by a call, half an hour after the deal was thought to be dead, to revive Luiz's protracted move from Benfica to Chelsea at around 6pm. The Brazilian had to rush to Lisbon airport -- the third time in the last week he has made that trip only to, agonisingly, again be stopped.

However, that was so he could sign papers to be sent over to the Premier League to complete the move.

The Torres deal was, of course, the biggest and most significant, with Chelsea paying £45m up front for the 26-year-old striker and a further £5m in add-ons so that it reached Liverpool's £50m valuation.

That eclipsed the official British record of £32.5m paid by Manchester City to Real Madrid for Robinho, and the unofficial one of the £35m plus the same club are believed to have paid for Carlos Tevez.

The add-ons for the Torres deal are understood to be easily achievable appearance targets rather than related to winning trophies.

But Liverpool did not want to leave themselves without a replacement, having failed to persuade Chelsea to include Nicolas Anelka in the deal and with the French striker not wanting to move back to Anfield.

Having also been rebuffed in their weekend attempts to sign Ashley Young, and being unwilling to pay Aston Villa £18m for the winger, they launched a concerted attempt to prise Carroll from Newcastle.

An initial bid of £25m was raised to £35m, matching the club's valuation, and increased to £36m to ensure he signed.

The 22-year-old, despite his promise and goalscoring record, is still in his first season in the Premier League. He arrived on Merseyside yesterday evening by helicopter after, astonishingly, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley insisted he had to submit a transfer request in order for the deal to go through -- which he did.


Once Liverpool had resolved to let Torres go -- the Spaniard was at the club's training ground Melwood yesterday along with his advisers to say his goodbyes -- they quickly muscled their way to the front of the queue to sign Carroll, who only returned to Tyneside on Sunday after consulting a specialist in Sweden over a thigh injury.

It is hoped Carroll will return to training next week after fears he would be out for another two months.

As of Sunday night, and despite persistent interest from Tottenham -- who had been told the striker could go for £35m but refused to meet that price -- Newcastle had no intention of selling Carroll, who had told the club he wanted to stay.

However, Liverpool's final offer was too good to refuse even though it also came too late for the Magpies to mount a bid for a replacement.

They had to content themselves with completing the loan signing of midfielder Stephen Ireland from Aston Villa.

Once terms were agreed for Carroll, Liverpool began the formality of permitting Torres to board another helicopter and fly to London.

The Spain international arrived at Battersea Heliport and was driven to Stamford Bridge to complete the formalities of his move, which happened with speed since he shocked Liverpool by handing in his own transfer request at 8.30pm on Friday.

His personal terms had already been agreed, including wages, inclusive of image rights, of around £175,000 a week.

Benfica finally agreed to Chelsea's payment schedule of £21m in two instalments with midfielder Nemanja Matic as a makeweight in the deal for Luiz.

It meant that in one day Abramovich spent as much as he has done in the three years since Jose Mourinho left the club. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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