Liverpool to demand Anelka
ESPNsoccernet has been informed on Sunday night that Liverpool do not wish to sell Fernando Torres, but would be willing to do a deal worth £50 million which includes Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka returning to Anfield.
It is now a straight £50 million deal to include Anelka, take it or leave it, according to ESPNsoccernet sources at both Liverpool and Chelsea.
Whether that is £40 million plus Anelka valued at £10 million has not been confirmed by either club and there are many imponderables as the transfer window edges to its 11pm GMT close on Monday night with potentially the biggest and most spectacular deal in the balance.
Roman Abramovich's latest offer was well short of the £50 million mark, with a bid of £35 million in cash plus Daniel Sturridge, taking the total package to £40 million - and there is, as yet, no sign that the Blues' owner will meet Liverpool's demands.
Among many of the factors that put the Torres move to Stamford Bridge on a knife edge, with insiders saying "it will go to the wire," is whether Abramovich will sanction a record busting deal for British football. There are real doubts that he will.
Or, indeed, if Anelka would co-operate in switching to Liverpool as the makeweight, or whether Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti is prepared to sacrifice Anelka to get Torres.
Torres returned from a short break in Spain on Sunday and trained on his own at Melwood, purely because he arrived latter than his team-mates, which had been agreed in advance. It is not to be interpreted that he is already being ostracised by Dalglish and the owners in preparation for a sale.
The club then spent time reassuring Torres and his representatives that they have been making efforts to recruit players in the January transfer window, but had been rebuffed in their bids for Ashley Young and Charlie Adam, although a renewed bid for Adam is expected on Monday. Villa have made it plain that Young is not for sale unless the price becomes too attractive to turn down.
Abramovich felt he could get Torres on the cheap, by first offering £28 million knowing that Torres wanted to go to his club with the player submitting a written transfer request to back it up.
While it was widely speculated that Chelsea had bid anything from £35 million to £60 million, ESPNsoccernet revealed that those figures were preposterously wide of the mark, and that the actual bid was £28 million, followed by a subsequent offer of £32 million.
With Liverpool making it perfectly plain 'with thanks, but no thanks', it has become clear that Liverpool will only entertain the figure they had agreed with Torres last summer when the striker accepted that he would stay for the season with the promise that the club would deliver the players to return to the Champions League.
Although that £50 million buy-out clause only kicks in at the end of the season, Torres has argued that there is no chance of Champions league football now, and that the club should honour the principle of their agreement.
Liverpool will do that for that buy-out price of £50 million, but will accept a player exchange because they do not have time to sign a replacement on the final day of the transfer window.
Having signed Luis Suarez from Ajax for nearly £23 million, they have a striker arriving without any Premier League experience and don't want to be left short in that department, so would want Anelka, who has vast experience and once played for Liverpool, rather than the inexperienced Sturridge.
Liverpool are determined to turn out Torres alongside Suarez, or Anekla alongside Suarez. With only one day left, that seems an awful lot of work to do to make the deal happen.
Ironically, Liverpool travel to Chelsea for a vital Premier League clash just a week after the transfer window closes, and the indications are quite strong that Torres will remain in a Liverpool shirt. Only a complete U-turn of Abramovich's transfer policy in the final 24 hours of the January transfer window could alter that.