Fernando Torres Declares His Future To Liverpool Under Intense Pressure
The old adage that no player is more important than his team came into focus today as Kenny Huang announced that his proposed Liverpool takeover depended upon the club keeping Fernando Torres at the club.
Needless to say, the Spanish striker, who just returned to pre-season training on Monday, announced that his "commitment and loyalty to the club and to the fans is the same as it was on my first day when I signed," and that he was looking forward to the new season with the Reds.
Having signed for Liverpool in 2007 for a club record £26.5 million the striker has gone on to hit the back of the net at a ferocious pace, 72 goals in 116 appearances. A quite brilliant record in just three seasons.
And while Torres has hit the back of the net with phenomenal ease he has also suffered his fair share of injuries, which have combined to limit his Premiership appearances to 79 games over those three seasons, with just 24 in 2008/09 and 22 in 2009/10.
There is no doubting Torres' ability, but he does seem injury prone and it was interesting to see and hear many Liverpool fans and pundits say, during the summer, that it might be best to cash in on their prize asset and give Roy Hodgson the funds to rebuild.
There is a certain logic there, with many feeling, that as the 2009/10 tapered off to a disappointing end, that Liverpool would be best served by allowing Gerrard and Torres to leave the club for an estimated £100 million which could service some of the debt whilst going some of the way to signing some much needed new blood.
Roll on two and a half months and almost everything has changed at Anfield.
Roy Hodgson has come in and in little over one month all the cobwebs from the Rafael Benitez reign at the club have been swept away, club captain Steven Gerrard has committed his future to the club in the glare of attention from Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid and now the most vital piece in the jigsaw has committed himself to the club too.
Rarely if ever in these glowing Premiership times has one player been put in such a predicament, where his very decision could decide the very fate of a club.
Make no mistake about it, Fernando Torres is under excruciating pressure this week and had he signalled his intent to leave the club for pastures new there was the very real possibility that Liverpool FC could have gone the way of Leeds United or, much worse, Portsmouth.
It is no exaggeration to sign that keeping the Spaniard at the club is key to Kenny Huang's Chinese Takeaway deal, or any potential sale should the Huang deal collapse. The American group NESV are monitoring the situation closely at Anfield and they want Torres to stay for this season too.
Huang, a China-born businessman has had a keen interest in the Reds for sometime now, having inquired about purchasing the club in 2008 only to be put off by George Gillett's and Tom Hicks' £650 million valuation.
This time around Huang believes that he can buy the club for almost half that amount, and then clear Liverpool's £237 million debt with Royal Bank of Scotland.
At the end of the 2008/09 season Liverpool was in debt for just £237 million, but given the financial disasters than Hicks and Gillett have been for the club that debt rose to almost £450 million through loans and refinancing packages.
That was on top of Liverpool's most profitable season of all time where they finished second in the EPL to Manchester United.
Given their perilous financial structures and the lack of Champions League football and the highly unlikely task of them winning the league this year it is a very real possibility that that debt will increase exponentially again.
In short, Martin Broughton has to find a new owner of the club soon and fast.
If he does not then it is very likely that the club could plummet.
The news that a new potential owner has come on the scene is something of a miracle cure for the club, as many fans thought that Waldorf and Statler, Hicks and Gillett as they are affectionately known by fans, would be around for almost ever.
So here comes Kenny Huang, if he buys the club Liverpool survive and given the right financing will challenge for the league in the near future.
However, all that is predicated upon Fernando Torres staying at the club.
If he leaves, Huang pulls out and Liverpool has a few more tough years ahead.
The pressure Torres must have been under to commit his future to an idea must have been overwhelming. Especially when you consider that just after the World Cup the Spaniard indicated that he wanted to join the growing revoloution at Barcelona.
Huang knows that the Far East is an untapped resource as far as football is concerned and that Asian football supporters are more liable to identify with players and follow them rather than the actual teams they play for. So keeping Fernando Torres at the club is vital for the time being.
He is the undoubted star of this current Liverpool team and it will not have escaped Huang that as far as football jersey sales in the Premiership go Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are currently numbers one and two with Wayne Rooney a distant third.
Currently Liverpool are the most supported English team in Europe but have fallen behind rivals Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal worldwide. Even Tottenham Hotspur enjoys a better penetration in North America than the Reds.
But each club know that China is the Promised Land. David Gill, the Chief Executive of Manchester United has gone on record as saying that the Red Devils see China as one area that is crucial to penetrate first. Given that 333 million of Manchester United's fans are based in Asia, not including China that is some statement.
As it stands Liverpool's popularity is incredible, their website is the most hit team website in football and their brand is recognised all over the planet.
The first part of Huang's job is done.
By Torres and Gerrard both coming out publicly and saying that they are staying for at least one more year, it sends out the unwritten message that Liverpool is a viable commodity both in terms of business, and worship. Making them a far more attractive proposition for potential fans.
His next task is to convince Hicks and Gillett to accept his reduced offer.
This will be no easy task as both American's have proved to be quite stubborn in this regard.
If that avenue fails then Huang may pursue buying the debt from RBS directly, but how that would pan out in the boardroom at Anfield is anyone’s guess.
There is no doubting that Huang is in the driving seat for the moment. Of the six offers for the club on the table, his is the most advanced in terms of negotiations, but that could change in terms of finance is another suitor comes up with a better offer.
Hicks and Gillett are no fools in this regard and know that they hold the keys to one of the most recognisable brands in sports entertainment. In their all red strip they would be an easy sell in China.
For the moment Fernando Torres has put his club before himself. But all that could change if Liverpool is not sold by the end of the season, or if the club does get sold and Torres tries to force a deal though...