Liverpool will not be bullied into selling Fernando Torres to Chelsea, with Kenny Dalglish determined to hold onto the striker despite reports that he is ready to ask for a move.
The Reds revealed late on Thursday night that they had rejected a bid for star striker Torres, with a club spokesman saying: "Chelsea have made a bid for Fernando which has been turned down. The player is not for sale."
ESPNsoccernet can reveal that Chelsea's offer for Torres was £28 million, significantly lower than the £35-40 million suggested in the press on Friday and a second bid of just over £30 million was also rejected soon after.
But even if the Blues were to return with a dramatically increased third bid, Liverpool would still refuse to entertain the idea of selling their prized asset, who has scored 74 goals in three-and-a-half years since arriving at Anfield as the Merseysiders' record signing in 2007.
A source close to the transfer told ESPNsoccernet: "There was a bid tabled at £28 million, but Liverpool made it clear that they won't sell. Kenny Dalglish is there for [at least] six months and he does not want one of his best players sold under any circumstances."
However, Liverpool's hand may yet be forced as reports emerged on Friday that Torres is ready to shock the club by asking to move to the reigning Premier League champions.
"If the player wants to go, that is another matter and if there is a chance [of him forcing a move] maybe Chelsea will increase their offer," the source added.
Chelsea's pursuit of Torres has been a game of cat and mouse, bubbling under the surface for 18 months, with representatives working behind the scenes to try to make the transfer a reality.
The Blues are ready to offer Torres a lucrative wage packet at Stamford Bridge should Liverpool accept a return offer - with a basic £160,000-a-week salary, plus bonuses and a massive signing on fee likely. Torres has been aware of Chelsea's interest for some time and had privately suggested they would be his preferred destination should he leave Anfield.
Manchester City were thought to be willing to pay a staggering £75 million for the former Atletico Madrid frontman last summer and he could have commanded £200,000-a-week at Eastlands, but a move to City has never been on Torres' agenda. Chelsea are travelling up to Merseyside on Friday ahead of their FA Cup clash with Everton, and members of the club's hierarchy have joined the team on the journey north as they consider putting together a new bid for Torres before the transfer window closes at 2300 GMT on Monday.
There are contradicting reports about the existence of a £50 million buy-out clause in Torres' contract and, at any rate, it is debatable whether Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich would be willing to pay that kind of fee.
Torres has endured a difficult season, in which he has struggled for form and fitness, but he has seemingly been given a new lease of life since Kenny Dalglish replaced Roy Hodgson in the Liverpool hotseat and has still managed nine Premier League goals this term.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti refused to be drawn on his club's bid for Torres - but said he is happy that "the club are trying to do everything they can to improve the squad''.
Ancelotti added: "I don't want to speak about this, you will have to ask the club. He is not my player and I have to have respect for Liverpool. I don't like to speak about this.''