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31 Jan 2011

Liverpool are likely to sell striker Fernando Torres before the transfer window closes on Monday if they can agree a £50m package with Chelsea.

The Reds could be open to a deal of £40m in cash plus Blues forward Nicolas Anelka, according to an Anfield source.

They have already rejected a £35m bid from Chelsea for Torres, who was signed from Atletico Madrid in 2007.

The 26-year-old Spain striker's transfer request was turned down by Liverpool on Friday.

The Reds are angered by the timing of Torres' request - the January transfer window closes at 2300 GMT on Monday - and believe Chelsea have "tapped up" the player by encouraging him to express a desire to leave.

Torres has a £50m release clause in his contract, but this only entitles him to leave if the Merseysiders fail to qualify for the Champions League this season - so even if Chelsea offer a package of that amount, Liverpool believe they could still force him to stay.

Reds manager Kenny Dalglish and the club's owners see little point in forcing the striker to remain at Anfield against his will, but are determined to hold out for what they see as a more realistic bid - and what would be a British record transfer fee.

By submitting his transfer request at the very end of the window, Torres has made it very difficult for his club to find a replacement.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is expected to submit an improved offer on Monday.

Despite reports, Liverpool are not interested in a deal involving 21-year-old Blues back-up striker Daniel Sturridge.

If Anelka is part of any package involving Torres being sold to Chelsea it would represent a return to Anfield for the 31-year-old French striker, who had a loan spell there in 2002.

Torres, who signed a six-year contract when he joined the Reds for £20m in 2007, has been linked with Chelsea before.

The west Londoners were reported to be interested in luring the Spaniard from Anfield in the summer of 2008 and made a bid in May 2010, but after helping Spain win the World Cup in June Torres pledged his future to Liverpool.

He said at the time: "My commitment and loyalty to the club and to the fans is the same as it was on my first day when I signed."

Torres notched three hat-tricks in his first season at Liverpool, scoring 33 goals in 46 appearances, and netted the winner as Spain beat Germany 1-0 to win the European Championship in 2008.

Hamstring injuries plagued him during the 2008-09 season but he still managed 17 goals in 38 games, while groin problems and knee surgery disrupted his 2009-10 campaign, although he still managed to find the net 22 times in 32 games.

Torres picked up a World Cup winners' medal with Spain but he failed to score during the finals in South Africa and pulled up with an abductor problem in the final, having come on as an 89th-minute substitute in the 1-0 victory over the Netherlands.

He has endured an indifferent 2010-11 season, scoring only nine goals in 26 games, and his transfer request came as Liverpool looked to have bolstered their attacking options by agreeing a £23m fee with Ajax for striker Luis Suarez.


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