Liverpool's legendary goalscorer Ian Rush has told ESPN Soccernet that, even if the struggling club fail to secure a top-four finish this season, he fully expects the man now donning the famous number nine shirt, Fernando Torres, to remain loyal to the Reds.
The past three months have been a disaster for Rafael Benitez, with the club exiting the Champions League at the group stage and Saturday's disappointing 2-0 defeat at the hands of Portsmouth meaning they have won just four of their past 17 games in all competitions.
With the turn of the year fast approaching, Liverpool sit in eighth place, one behind promoted Birmingham City, and are already eight points shy of Aston Villa, who currently occupy the all-important fourth place and the potential for Champions League qualification it brings with it.
The financial ramifications of missing out on European football would be damaging indeed for the Reds but, from a sporting perspective, it has also been suggested that star players like Torres and Steven Gerrard could be tempted away from a club that had lost the lustre of elite continental football.
But Rush, who scored 346 goals in 660 appearances for the club, feels that Torres has developed a genuine rapport with the club's fans thanks to his glut of goals in the past two and a half years and would remain faithful to Benitez and the Reds even if Champions League football was snatched away.
"He is a fantastic player," Rush told ESPN Soccernet. "He is one of the best strikers in the world and the way he adjusted to the English game was fantastic. He is one of a few players that, if he becomes available, every top club in the world would want him.
"It wouldn't surprise me at all if teams were in for him in January, but he does have genuine affection for the supporters because he knows the supporters love him. Him and Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher - the fans love them because of the effort they put in and the skill they have.
"I think that if they didn't finish in the top four, the likes of Torres and Gerrard would still be at Liverpool because they have a feel for the club. I think they will think, 'Let's give it one more go here. I owe it to the fans to give it one more go to get back into the Champions League'."
However, with financial pressures proving a constant theme at Anfield, Rush is concerned about which course of action owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks would take should the club finish outside the top four and huge bids be received for Gerrard and Torres.
"I think those two would [want to] stay," Rush said. "But the temptation that will be offered to both of them, if clubs offer ridiculous amounts of money, that is a temptation for the owners as well. What do they do then?"
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