Liverpool fury as Chelsea pay £50m for Torres
Liverpool fans show their anger by burning Fernando Torres shirts outside Anfield
The Spanish striker Fernando Torres has joined Chelsea from Liverpool in a £50m deal, the most ever paid by a British club and Europe's fourth biggest transfer fee of all time. "This is the target for every footballer - to try to play for one of the top clubs in the world," said Torres, shortly after signing a five-and-a-half year contract with the reigning Premier League champions. "They [Chelsea] are one of the biggest teams in Europe and are always fighting for everything."
The deal is topped in Europe only by the £80m Real Madrid paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's £56.5m switch from Inter to Barcelona and the £56m Real Madrid paid AC Milan for Kaka.
The Reds have used the money to bring in replacements for the 26-year-old Torres in the shape of Luis Suarez from Ajax (£22.7m) and Newcastle's controversial Andy Carroll (£35m). That's a record sum for an English player, surpassing the £29.1m Manchester United paid Leeds for Rio Ferdinand in 2002.
Like most people in the game, Ferdinand was a little surprised that Liverpool should pay so much for a callow 21-year-old, currently sidelined with injury, who is as famous for his off-field shenanigans as his goal-scoring ability.
"Carroll has huge potential no doubt, [but] is £35m still not a hefty sum of money in this recession we are meant to be in!?" tweeted Ferdinand when he heard of the deal, before adding later: "David Villa cost [Manchester City] £34m... an integral member of successful Spain team and played regular Champions League... UK market is crazy right now!"
As well as Torres, Chelsea also signed defender David Luiz from Benfica for £21.3m, a clear sign that the club's Russian owner Roman Abramovich is determined to arrest Chelsea's recent dip in form that has seen them slip from first to fourth in the Premier League table.
"This is a very significant day for Chelsea, capturing one of the best players in the world with his peak years ahead of him," said Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck. "We have long admired the talents of a player who is a proven goal-scorer in English football and Fernando's arrival is a sign of our continuing high ambitious. I hope every Chelsea fan is as excited as I am with this news."
No doubt they will be, but Liverpool supporters reacted with fury to Torres's departure from the club he joined four years ago, some of them gathering outside Anfield last night to burn replica shirts with the Spaniard's name emblazoned on the back.
But Torres – who's available to play in Chelsea's Champions League encounter against Copenhagen later this month - was unconcerned by the fuss, telling his new fans: "I'm so happy and proud to be here... I know there are many great players here and I will work hard to win a place in the team. I am looking forward very much to helping my new team-mates this season and for many years to come. It's my dream to win the Champions League and I'm sure I can, playing for Chelsea." ·
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