Chelsea have made a dramatic move for Fernando Torres that they hope will catch Manchester City cold and take the Liverpool striker to Stamford Bridge for a British record transfer fee that could reach £70million.
Preliminary discussions have already taken place, with the outcome of those meetings positive enough to convince Roman Abramovich that he will beat his big-spending rivals at Eastlands to the 26-year-old Spaniard.
Chelsea can secure their third Barclays Premier League title during Abramovich’s tenure with the right result at home to Wigan on Sunday — before then chasing a possible domestic Double with the FA Cup final the following weekend — and Abramovich now wants to add the extra quality to the side that will enhance their chances of finally winning the Champions League.
Chelsea are not afraid to sign Liverpool’s best players. In 2005 and 2006 they went close to luring captain Steven Gerrard from Anfield and now they are sure they will succeed with the player named in the FIFPro World XI for the last two years and ranked third behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka at the FIFA World Player of the Year gala for 2008.
Amid the chaos at Anfield, fears have already been expressed that Torres, who joined from Atletico Madrid for around £20m in 2007, will leave Liverpool this summer.
It was only last year that he made a commitment to the Merseysiders by signing a new four-year contract worth £110,000-a-week.
But the Liverpool landscape has since changed significantly, with under-fire manager Rafa Benitez now on the verge of leaving for Juventus, yet more uncertainty over the future ownership of the club, and the team’s failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League hanging over Anfield.