Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is keen to bring in more players to bolster his squad but holding on to Fernando Torres is the most pressing target for the new man at the Anfield helm.
The 62-year-old Reds boss revealed yesterday that the Spain striker had told the club he was looking forward to returning to training next week and playing for the Merseysiders.
That does not definitely mean the World Cup winner will remain at Anfield for the forthcoming campaign – especially considering Chelsea and Manchester City are still being linked with a British transfer record bid – but it is the best Hodgson is going to get for now.
And with the likely departure of £25m-rated midfielder Javier Mascherano, whom Hodgson confirmed had asked to leave but had not been given permission to do so, the Reds boss may be in a position to bring in the quality signings Torres called for last season.
Torres’ apparent willingness to stay will have given another lift to a club which appears to be bouncing back from a disappointing seventh-placed Barclays Premier League finish.
“As far as I know he is looking forward to coming back here on Monday,” said Hodgson of the 26-year-old Spaniard.
“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.”
Liverpool head off to Macedonia this morning to play Rabotnicki in the first leg of their Europa League third qualifying round.
After attending a press conference to officially unveil free transfer signings Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic and £2m Rangers defender Danny Wilson, Hodgson spent the rest of yesterday afternoon in meetings.
He was probably planning for life without Mascherano and confirmed his intention to continue strengthening the squad.
“It was important we made some signings early on and made clear to everyone that our intentions are serious,” added Hodgson.
“I think it is clear from the players alongside me we are serious and we have been fortunate to acquire their services.
“We’re still interested in some other players. I hope this won’t be the last of our signings.
“The aim of the club is to try to make this squad as competitive as possible.”
A competitive squad is a concern for Hodgson as he tackles the Europa League.
He has been told by the club’s medical staff not to use the World Cup stars too early otherwise he risks jeopardising their fitness later in the year.
However, the manager is acutely aware it is a risk fielding a side largely made up of reserves.
Cole hinted that Hodgson had already made his mind up yesterday when he said: “I am looking forward to it, I can’t wait for the first game.
“It is the Europa League game and hopefully I’ll get on the pitch.”