With the shocking news that Liverpool striker Fernando Torres is seeking a move away from the club to Premier League rivals Chelsea this transfer window breaking over the past few days, would the sale of one of the club’s most prized assets be a good thing for Liverpool in the long-run and help facilitate a much needed revamp of the playing staff?
It’s become abundantly clear over the past few months that Fernando Torres has been far from a happy bunny at Liverpool, and while the nature of his discontent has been there for everyone to see, the speed at which things have moved over the past few days has been most surprising.
Chelsea Chairman Roman Abramovich has, correctly in my opinion, decided to right the wrongs of the club’s flawed transfer policy in the summer by digging into his considerably deep pockets to fork out for some established talent. The plan at Chelsea was always that in the long-term, the club would become self-sufficient and there has been a noticeable decrease in the club’s spending the past few seasons.
Abramovich though, has obviously realised that he has the right man in charge in Carlo Ancelotti, it’s just that the current squad that he has at his disposal could do with a bit of spring cleaning. Chelsea are clearly an ageing side on the wane at the minute, and by my estimation they probably need around 5 players to challenge for the title again – a strange thing to say about the current champions I grant you, but let me explain.
Jose Mourinho’s back-to-back title winning teams had pace in abundance and a real strength in depth. While Chelsea’s current allegiance to their youth team players is admirable, they are simply too raw to be relied upon just yet. I think Chelsea need a centre half, with their pursuit of David Luiz likely to be revived in the summer, a creative midfielder, a couple of genuinely pacy wingers and a world-class striker. It’s not a major overhaul that’s required, just tweaking and a padding out of the first-team squad with some more experienced faces.
They lack pace and a source of creativity. Their game is based around power and confidence. A Chelsea side in full flow has a swagger to it that’s hard to match and they can be absolutely devastating when on song. Sadly for Ancelotti though, this hasn’t been the case for most of the campaign so far as they‘ve struggled for consistency. Signing Torres would send a signal that the days of the club dipping into the transfer market for big-name players aren’t completely over yet in a signal of both intent and ambition. Torres most certainly offers Chelsea a different option to what they currently possess.
So how much will he cost?
Liverpool have apparently demanded £50m for Torres, a fair price by my estimations, especially considering the market today, the barometer of the Cristiano Ronaldo sale, and the premium you pay for doing your business in January. What Liverpool do with this money is even more interesting though.
If Chelsea need 5 players to truly challenge for the title once more, then Liverpool need probably double that to have a sufficient chance of doing the unthinkable – winning a Premier League title.
Liverpool’s squad lacks any real depth and the quality is worryingly uneven. You have fabulous players such as Reina, Gerrard and Torres interspersed with deeply average footballers such as Konchesky, N’Gog and Kyrgiakos. In short, Liverpool are in dire need of a revamp.
The departure of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid has hit the club much harder than even the most avid Alonso fan could have envisaged, and they’ve struggled to dictate the tempo of games ever since. Raul Meireles has been a great buy, but he looks more of a threat and comfortable further up the pitch. Top priority has to be, a replacement for Torres aside, a player capable of dictating their play from deep.
This is obviously a task easier said than done and playmakers of the calibre of Alonso are few and far between, but with £50m in their back pocket, Liverpool can afford to pursue, in the eloquent Jamie Redknapp’s words, ‘top, top players’.
The fact that Liverpool are so over-reliant on two players – Gerrard and Torres – isn’t a healthy state of affairs for any side to be in and isn‘t conducive to any sort of lasting success. The lack of a plan B if those two struggle to perform has been present for three seasons now and shows a lack of foresight on successive former managers’ parts.
The new owners NESV have been faced with arguably their biggest challenge to date since taking ownership of the club. If they get the right deal, the one rumoured today to be £40m plus Nicolas Anelka, then it could mark a turning point in Liverpool’s future direction. The fees being banded about are considerable, particularly when you factor in the player’s willingness to move and his injury-record over the past 18 months.
Unlike just a few short months ago, when rejecting a £35-40m bid would have been nothing short of remarkable, the club now don’t have an overwhelming need to sell. The preferred option would be to negotiate some sort of deal with Torres so that he could stay until the end of the season at least, then be allowed to move on if he still wished to. The problem with this though, is that you then have an unhappy player on your hands for half a season.
The deal for Luis Suarez has to be seen as the exception and not the rule when it comes to the sort of fees that the new owners are likely to pay out in the future. Before the whole Torres/Chelsea story came to light, Suarez was being pursued with the intention of partnering Torres, not replacing him. £23m is a lot of money for Suarez, but it shows that if the right player were to become available, NESV aren’t afraid to put their hands in their pocket and stump up the necessary cash.
However, NESV are widely known in the US from their time in charge of Boston Red Sox to be canny operators when it comes to transfer dealings. They prefer sensible investments over time as opposed to the quick fix option. Without the sale of someone such as Torres, the process of rebuilding the side would happen through incremental steps and smart acquisitions as opposed to a short spending spree. The sale of Torres could speed up the revamp considerably and offers the club more options.
The club’s new-found stability off the pitch means their bargaining position is now significantly stronger than it was at the beginning of the season and they’ll drive a hard bargain for Torres.
In an ideal world for Liverpool fans, Fernando Torres would be content to see out the remaining years of his contract at the club and spearhead Kenny Dalglish’s second coming. This, though, looks to be little more than a pipedream after the last few days’ revelations. Torres will leave, either today, something which is looking increasingly likely, or at the very latest, in the summer. What Liverpool do now is of paramount importance.
Losing a player of Torres’ quality would hit any side hard. He’s unquestionably one of the top three strikers in the world and has a fantastic record for the club. His pace, directness, work-rate and finesse will be sorely missed – but it’s clear that a move for around the £50m is in the best interests of both parties.
It gives Liverpool the opportunity to bring an end to the days of middling players not fit to wear the shirt and presents them with an opportunity for recovery. The first shoots of recovery have already been sown with the arrival of club legend Dalglish. Back-to-back wins and improved performances on the pitch show that it’s not all doom and gloom on the pitch and that there is still a lot at the club to work with.
Inter Milan have shown the blueprint on how to achieve success after the departure of one of the club’s biggest stars, with their reinvestment in their squad after the sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovich to Barcelona for £40m plus Samuel Eto‘o. His departure enabled the club to sign Wesley Sneijder, Lucio, Goran Pandev, Thaigo Motta, Diego Milito and McDonald Mariga. An unprecedented treble followed and Liverpool will be hoping the sale of Torres for a similar fee will go some way to repeating similar success on the pitch.
The idea of letting go of Torres seemed bonkers at first, but now, it seems like the only way forward for the club.
What does everyone else think? Should Liverpool cash in on Torres while they can? Will his sale facilitate an improvement of the squad as a whole? Or is this simply a worrying sign of a club in decline?