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Crouch central to Liverpool despite Torres' arrival

Crouch central to Liverpool despite Torres' arrival

By Andy Hunter

Published: 04 July 2007

Fernando Torres will damage his carbon footprint before becoming Liverpool's record signing today - but not the Anfield career of Peter Crouch, who has been told he remains central to Rafael Benitez's plans despite the £26.5m arrival of the Spain international.

The Atletico Madrid captain returned to the Spanish capital from a holiday in the Polynesian islands on Monday and flew into Merseyside yesterday where he passed a medical and finalised personal terms on a six-year contract worth a basic £90,000-a-week. He then headed back to Madrid to prepare a farewell address to an Atletico support enraged by his departure and is due at Liverpool this afternoon to be unveiled as the most expensive signing in their history, the answer to the manager's transfer demands and, unless he stipulates otherwise, Robbie Fowler's successor in the No 9 shirt.

The Atletico president, Enrique Cerezo, had insisted Torres publicly declare a desire to leave Vicente Calderon during transfer negotiations to deflect criticism at the sale of the club's icon. Once that statement has been delivered, the 23-year-old will be free to conclude Benitez's costliest signing.

Torres's arrival will leave Liverpool with five senior strikers on their books - Dirk Kuyt, Crouch, Craig Bellamy and Andriy Voronin - but the one English player on that list will not be the man to make way.

Manchester City are the latest club to be linked with a move for Crouch, with manager-in-waiting Sven Goran Eriksson keen on a reunion with the England international as well as Nicolas Anelka, Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Jermain Defoe. Liverpool are yet to offer a contract extension to their leading scorer last season, who has two years remaining on his existing deal, but the club have denied reports the 26-year-old is the only player in that predicament (John Arne Riise is in the same position while Harry Kewell and Steve Finnan are entering their final 12-months) or that they are willing to sell the £7m forward.

"It is not true that he is the only player not to have been approached about a new deal and he is very much part of Rafa Benitez's future plans," said the chief executive Rick Parry.

Liverpool are expected to pay £21.5m for Torres, having sold Luis Garcia to Atletico yesterday in a £5m deal. The 29-year-old, who has signed a three-year contract, said: "I simply couldn't reject the offer when given the opportunity to return to Atletico. Liverpool has been very important in my career and I will never forget my time there."


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