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Torres covets hero status

Torres covets hero status

By Neil Johnston
Last Updated: 1:32am BST 05/07/2007

Fernando Torres vowed to succeed where countryman Fernando Morientes failed by establishing himself as an Anfield goalscoring hero after being unveiled as Liverpool's record signing.

Morientes failed to come to terms with the physical side of the Premiership on his arrival from Real Madrid in January 2005 and was back in Spain 16 months later after a disappointing return of eight goals in 41 top-flight outings.

Yet Torres, who has been handed the famous No9 shirt previously owned by club legends Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush after signing a six-year £90,000-a-week contract, said he could not wait for the bruising side of the English game after costing Liverpool £22 million from Atletico Madrid.

"I don't think adapting to the physical side will be a problem," Torres, the scorer of 91 goals in 243 Atletico appearances, said yesterday. "I've seen Premiership games on television and I know it's harder to get a free kick in England than it is in Spain."

Torres, 23, said he was undaunted by the huge pressures placed on his shoulders and vowed to repay the faith shown in him by manager Rafael Benitez.

"I don't have any fear of the responsibilities that lie in front of me at Liverpool," Torres added. "It's not something that worries me.

"I'm totally aware that the expectations here are extremely high and that people will want me to score lots of goals. I'm confident I can do that."

Torres, who has previously been linked with Manchester United and Chelsea, admitted he thought long and hard about leaving Atletico, the club he supported as a boy, before committing the best years of his career to Liverpool. He spoke to Jose Reina, the Liverpool keeper, on the phone as well as Luis Garcia, who left Anfield this week to join Atletico.

"I have had offers from other clubs in the past, but when I learned of Liverpool's interest I asked Atletico Madrid to listen to the offer," Torres said. "I'm 23 and it's a great age to be making a move like this. I felt I had gone as far as I could at Atletico. I want to set myself new targets and goals, and play in the Champions League.

"To be really considered a truly great player you have to play for one of the great clubs. Liverpool are a great club."

Torres has finished top scorer for Atletico in each of the last five seasons, but Benitez, who has now taken his spending to £121 million since 2004, believes he can still improve.

"If you analyse the figures," he said, "he was a footballer playing first-team football at 17 and it is very difficult to score goals consistently at that age. Then Atletico Madrid were not a top-four team and Torres was playing up front on his own.

"But if you read the comments of the Madrid supporters they say he couldn't have worked any harder for the team. To score the goals he has at his age, every season, shows he has great potential and he has the capacity to improve. I hope that at a big club surrounded by good players he will get even better."

Aston Villa are set to complete the signing of West Ham midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker after agreeing a fee believed to be in the region of £8 million. Villa are hoping the England Under-21s captain will sign the four-year deal tomorrow subject to him passing a medical and agreeing personal terms. It will be Villa manager Martin O'Neill's first summer signing.


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