Fernando Torres finally ended doubts over his future on Tuesday by committing himself to Liverpool and describing them as 'the best club in the country'.
Breaking his silence after months of uncertainty, Liverpool's £21million record signing dashed Chelsea's hopes of luring him away and set his sights on bringing the League title back to Anfield after a 21-year absence.
With Chelsea pursuing him for most of the summer, and Liverpool just as intent on keeping him, it became increasingly clear the stand-off would only be resolved by Torres going public on his intentions.
Back in town: Torres trains at Melwood after returning from World Cup duty
After several discussions with manager Roy Hodgson, and a promisethat Chinese businessman Kenny Huang is ready to bankroll a new era, hesided firmly with Liverpool and sounded a rallying call for the seasonahead.
Hodgson last night agreed a £5.5m fee for Juventus midfielderChristian Poulsen after Torres banished fears he may be angling for afresh start, having claimed last season the club needed to make 'fouror five' top-class signings.
Roy joy: Hodgson will be delighted to retain his two star players
The Spain striker said: 'My commitment and loyalty to the club andfans is the same as the day I signed, and I am looking forward to thechallenge ahead.
'From that first day, I received the same welcome as Steven Gerrardor Jamie Carragher, or players who have been here a long time. I feltat home straightaway. I feel the fans love me, and everyone knows I amreally happy here and really happy to play at Anfield.
'I am looking forward to playing with my team-mates and for thefans. I'm really happy to be back and to be with all my team-mates.This is the best club in the country, so the targets and expectationsare always going to be high.
'It was difficult last season, but we are sure we can improve thistime. At Liverpool, the aim is to fight for every title, and that willbe the case again. I know that one trophy here at Liverpool - maybe thePremier League - means more than three or four with another club.Winning it was my target from day one, and it still is. Hopefully, thisseason we can feel that sensation at Anfield.'
The breakthrough added further momentum to Hodgson's positive startas Liverpool boss, after he persuaded Real Madrid target Gerrard topledge himself to Anfield, and Torres paid tribute to the way he hadbeen coaxed into staying.
'I really appreciated the fact that Roy came out to see me while Iwas away on holiday,' he said. 'He told me about his plans for theclub, and what he wanted from me, and I appreciated that.
In the running: Torres can't wait for the season to start after returning to training with Liverpool
'I hope he will be the right man to reach the targets of LiverpoolFootball Club, and I am really looking forward to working with him. Iwas talking to Stevie (Gerrard) a lot today, and I also met Joe Cole. Ithink Joe is exactly the kind of player we need to improve the historyof our club.
'He is the kind of player I like to play with, and the sort who cantake the team on to a higher level. His passing is unbelievable, and Iam sure he will be a key player for us. We are keeping our bestplayers, as well, and it is so nice to be back with them.
'Winning the World Cup happens maybe once in your lifetime, so itwas a fantastic feeling to win the final and a great way to end theseason. But after having a break, I am glad to be back here atLiverpool and really looking forward to our first game.
'I am excited about the new season and the targets for the club. Ihave less than two weeks to get ready, but I felt really good in myfirst session back with the physios and the doctor. I will try to befit as soon as possible because I want to be setting foot on the pitchat Anfield again.'
Staying put: Captain Gerrard (left) is also committed to Liverpool
Javier Mascherano's move to Inter Milan moved a step closerfollowing reports in Italy that his agent had travelled to the San Sirofor talks with club officials.
The move seems certain to go through, with Danish internationalPoulsen, 30, a ready-made replacement. After a fee was agreed, hisagent is due at Anfield today to discuss personal terms.
Should Huang succeed with his takeover bid in the next couple ofweeks, and release the biggest transfer budget in Liverpool's history,more signings will follow.
Another player seemingly on his way out, at the second attempt, isleft back Emiliano Insua, whose £4.8m move to Fiorentina broke down atthe last minute, following a dispute over the structure of payment forhis wages.
It is understood Borussia Monchengladbach have made an enquiry aboutthe Argentine's availability after he returned to Anfield and played inSunday's friendly against the German side.
An impressive performance caught the eyes of Monchengladbach's coaching staff and could lead to a deal going through.
Fabio Aurelio's re-signing, just weeks after former manager RafaBenitez had deemed him surplus to requirements, means Hodgson can nowlet Insua depart.
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