Torres news soothes Mascherano blow
For Roy Hodgson, the news that Fernando Torres is looking forward to another season at Liverpool far outweighs the unsurprising announcement by Javier Mascherano that he wants to leave. The Argentina midfielder returned to training yesterday and immediately told his new manager he did not want to stay. The contrast could not be greater with the Spain striker, who has expressed his desire to come back next week and get stuck into preparations for a new campaign with the Reds.
If Torres fulfils that pledge - and despite much speculation about his future there is no reason to doubt he will not - it will give Liverpool a significant boost after months of uncertainty about matters on and off the pitch. Only yesterday the latest rumour about the 26-year-old was that he wanted to play in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League, which the Anfield giants failed to qualify for.
That would have represented something of a significant change of heart for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ winner as even when, towards the end of the last campaign, he talked about Liverpool needing "four or five" new players he stressed that Europe's top club competition was not the decisive factor in determining his future. And Hodgson has stated he had been given no indication that was now the case.
"As far as I know he is looking forward to coming back here on Monday," said the Englishman. "He is enjoying a holiday - a well-deserved break as he has not had one for three years - spending a lot of time with his family, keeping a low profile.
"As far as I know he is not really speaking to anyone but he has told us that he is looking forward to Monday, looking forward to getting back to work and looking forward to playing for Liverpool next season. That is what I know so other reports, I would suggest, are erroneous."
Masche eyes Rafa reunion
Torres's attitude is at odds with that of Mascherano's, who has been angling for a move almost ever since Barcelona were fended off 12 months ago. The departure of Rafa Benitez earlier this month only increased the likelihood of the Argentina captain also leaving Anfield, and in recent weeks his agent has spoken about how much the player would like a reunion with the Spaniard at his new club Inter Milan.
Hodgson is determined not to cave in to Mascherano's demands and has basically told I Nerazzurri they will have to come up with a significant offer if the combative midfielder is to leave. A figure of £25m would probably be enough to secure his passage to Italy, although the Serie A club has yet to make a serious offer.
"Yes, he wants to leave the club," confirmed Hodgson. "He has made that perfectly clear. I think he wanted to leave a year ago. He wants to leave now but he is contracted to Liverpool, so whether he leaves or not will be our decision.
"He is a Liverpool player and will continue to be treated as a Liverpool player until such a day arrives when he no longer is. The mere fact that the player is a little bit unhappy with his situation and would prefer to leave does not necessarily mean that he will do.
"It disappoints me but it is not unusual. I think in every club throughout the world there are players playing in the team who would prefer to leave. Some are allowed to, some are not allowed to.
"Mascherano is a Liverpool player with a two-year contract. I expect him to honour that contract until the day comes when the club decides to accept an offer for his services."