Torres transfer smashes record

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Torres transfer smashes record


Liverpool fans burn a Fernando Torres jersey at Melwood Training Ground in Liverpool, England on Jan. 31. [AP/YONHAP]

LIVERPOOL, England - Chelsea smashed the British transfer record in signing Fernando Torres from Liverpool on Monday for a reported 50 million pounds ($80.4 million). The Spanish striker signed a five-year contract with Chelsea in a move described by Liverpool as a British record.

The transfer is also one of the most expensive in the history of world football, bettered only by Real Madrid’s purchases of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka in 2009.

It is a similar figure to that paid to Inter Milan by Barcelona for Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2009, a deal that sent Samuel Eto’o to the Italian team. Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez was widely recognized as the previous most expensive signing in British football after moving from Manchester United for about 47 million pounds in 2009.

Torres spent three years at Liverpool, scoring 81 goals, but grew frustrated as the 18-time league champions struggled to keep pace with England’s leading clubs.

“I am very happy with my transfer to Chelsea and I am looking forward very much to helping my new teammates this season and for many years to come,’’ Torres said. “I hope I can score some important goals for the supporters to enjoy this season.’’

Torres’ first game for Chelsea could be against Liverpool in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, unless he features at Sunderland on Tuesday.

“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 ambitions. I hope every Chelsea fan is as excited as I am with this news.’’

Liverpool replaced Torres by breaking the club’s transfer record twice in the space of a few hours, first signing Luis Suarez from Ajax for 26.5 million euros ($36.3 million) and then Andy Carroll from Newcastle for a reported 35 million pounds - a record deal for an English player.

Torres, who had two years left on his contract at Liverpool, has regained some form over the last few weeks after struggling early in the season as he recovered from a groin injury. Three of his nine goals this season have come in the past four games. He scored 81 goals in 142 games overall for Liverpool.

Torres remained one of the most sought-after players in world football despite a disappointing contribution to Spain’s World Cup win in South Africa last year. He had previously said Liverpool was the only EPL club he would play for and his transfer had Liverpool fans venting out their anger by burning their Torres jerseys on the streets.

But Torres lost patience with Liverpool because of the club’s poor form over the past 18 months. The Reds finished seventh in the Premier League in 2010 and made their worst start to a campaign in 56 years this season.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti now has multiple options on the attack, with Torres joining Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba and former France forward Nicolas Anelka, but how they will all fit into the team remains to be seen.

Torres appears to be a better long-term option than Drogba, who turns 33 in March and hasn’t been as prolific this season as he was when he scored 37 goals for Chelsea last term.

With the prospects of silverware now doubly slim at Liverpool, Torres will be hoping to win trophies at Chelsea, the defending Premier League and FA Cup champions.

Liverpool set a transfer record of its own and shored up its offense by signing Carroll from Newcastle to a club record five-year deal with Liverpool on Monday.

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