The Sun claim that Liverpool are prepared to break their transfer record by spending £25million on Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres.
Goal.com was first to reveal yesterday that Liverpool officials had flown to Spain to hold talks with Atletico over the 23-year-old Spain international.
The Sun adds that Reds’ manager Rafael Benitez and chief executive Rick Parry are confident that Torres can be persuaded to switch to a club with a growing Spanish contingent.
The newspaper recalls that in April Torres was pictured wearing his Atletico captain’s armband with the words ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ on the inside, tough the player insisted it had nothing to do with Liverpool, so the Sun may simply have put two and two together to make five.
However, a move to Anfield is now looking more likely if a fee and personal terms can be agreed by the three parties involved.
Atletico are said to be seeking £27million for El Nino. That is the figure in the buy-out clause of Torres’ contract.
The player has two years left on his existing Madrid contract, though there has been speculation that Liverpool might offer Atletico Luis Garcia, rated at £7m, as part of the deal. H spent a year with Atletico in 2003.
Benitez’s interest in signing Torres is being seem by many as the acid test of the resolve of George Gillette and Tom Hicks, Liverpool’s new American owners.
All Liverpool fans’ eyes are on Anfield to see how much the two tycoons are prepared to plough into the club that they purchased in February. If they proceed and capture such a high-profile star as Torres, it will send a powerful message to their competitors.
Buying Torres would undoubtedly involve breaking the previous highst fee paid out by Liverpool — £14m to Auxerre for Djibril Cisse in 2004.
Benitez sees Torres as the regular goalscorer they have lacked since Michael Owen left for Real Madrid in 2004.
With Atletico not playing in Europe next season, a move to a club involved in the Champions League may well appeal to Torres, who chose to remain in Spain last summer when Chelsea were keen on signing him.
He has a good record, scoring 82 goals in 212 appearances for Atletico, plus and 14 in 42 matches for Spain.
If Torres does arrive on Merseyside, it could herald the exit of Craig Bellamy, who has recently been linked with a possible move to Roma, Juventus or even back to Newcastle.