LIVERPOOL manager Roy Hodgson will have breathed a sigh of relief that striker Fernando Torres is looking forward to another season with the Reds, but he has another headache as midfielder Javier Mascherano declared he wants out of Anfield.
Mascherano returned to training on Monday and told his new manager he did not want to stay.
The contrast could not be greater with Torres, who has expressed his keenness to come back next week and get stuck into preparations for a new campaign with the Merseysiders.
If Torres fulfils that pledge, and despite much speculation about his future, it will give Liverpool a significant boost after months of uncertainty about matters on and off the pitch.
Only on Monday the latest rumour about the Spain striker was that he wanted to play in the Champions League this season.
That would have represented something of a significant change of heart for the World Cup winner who had already stressed that Europe’s top club competition was not the decisive factor in determining his future.
And Hodgson said 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.
“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.”
Torres’ 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 Rafael 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 Inter they will have to come up with a significant offer if the combative midfielder is to leave.
A figure of £25 million €29,970 would probably be enough to secure his passage to Italy, although the Serie A club have yet to make a serious offer.
“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.”
Meanwhile new signing Joe Cole believes Liverpool will benefit from his best years and hopes that will coincide with the club ending their long wait for a league title.
The former Chelsea midfielder’s free transfer arrival at Anfield is seen as a significant coup by Hodgson, who only joined the club on July 1 following the departure of Benitez.
Having won three league titles with Chelsea, Cole hopes leaving Stamford Bridge will not bring an end to his medal haul.
“The target of a club like this is the number one place,” said Cole.
“When you come here the whole place is willing it to happen. You can feel that energy and I just want to do my best for the club.
“I am 28 now and coming into my peak years and I want to be at a club where I am on the pitch as much as possible and helping the team to really do something special.
“I need to feel my confidence again, get myself back to my best, but hopefully I can give my best years to this club.
Cole may make his debut in tomorrow’s Europa League third round qualifying round tie against Rabotnicki in Macedonia.
“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,” he added. “I like to get three or four games under my belt before I am firing on all cylinders.
“We’ve had a chat but I don’t like talking about tactics because the manager will want to keep that close to his chest but I’m looking forward to playing.
“Everyone knows I would love to play centrally with Stevie Gerrard but the manager will decide — I’ll play anywhere because the club pay my wages and I have respect for my team-mates.”
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