EXCLUSIVE: I'm staying... and this time Liverpool will win the title, vows Torres
19 June 2009 01:42
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Now Cristiano Ronaldo has departed from the Barclays Premier League, Fernando Torres has the top table to himself. That is assuming he will not be heading to Spain. Or to Manchester United, if one report is to be believed.
So what does Torres think about Ronaldo's exit. the problems facing United. his own future and Liverpool's chances?
Sportsmail caught up with him in South Africa at the Confederations Cup with Spain.
SPORTSMAIL: Fernando, there's a lot of speculation about the world's top players - and lots of money being spent - can you achieve your ambitions by staying at Liverpool?
TORRES: Winning the European Championship with Spain gave me a taste of what winning at the top level was like and once you've had a taste of success it becomes an addiction. A lot of players committed themselves to Liverpool this summer with new contracts and players don't do that unless they think they can have their ambitions met. There is a lot of belief at the club and a lot of trust in the manager. I sincerely believe I will win the Premier League and the European Cup here. The winning tradition is very clear at Liverpool. I want to be involved in a little piece of their history.
So that rules out a move to Real Madrid. or Manchester United?
TORRES: It was hard for me to leave Atletico (Real Madrid's great rivals). It was where I grew up and I have lost count how many times I have said I would only have left them for Liverpool. It may be hard to believe as I grew up in Spain, but Liverpool are my boyhood club. I grew up supporting them. Madrid obviously are spending lots of money and I'm sure that Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking for a big name to replace Ronaldo, but I'm very excited about what the boss is doing here at Liverpool. We came close last season and, with the experience we now have, I believe we can be champions next season.
Would you move clubs for more money?
TORRES: We all know that football players at the highest level earn very good money. You might get two clubs who are going crazy because of investment and offering higher wages than anybody else, but that does not interest me. I'm very happy with my contract at Liverpool and wouldn't leave just to earn a little more somewhere else where I wouldn't be that happy. To want any more would be greedy and that is not me. As long as Liverpool want me, I will stay.
So what about Ronaldo's departure?
TORRES: He has been one of the best players in the world for the last three years and it will be a big loss for the league, but with the amount of investment in the Premier League I expect world-class players to arrive this summer as well. If he feels about Madrid the way that I did about Liverpool I can understand his move. The white shirt is very famous and for a lot of players their goal is to one day play in that Madrid shirt because they are seen by many as the biggest club in the world. The white shirt is a huge privilege for players, but for me the biggest privilege in Europe is the red shirt of Liverpool.
Are Manchester United weaker without Ronaldo and are they there for the taking?
TORRES: That is completely the wrong way of looking at it. We won't win the title because Manchester United have become weaker but because we have become better. To look at it like that is a loser's mentality and that is not the way of Liverpool Football Club. I'm not sure they will be any weaker anyway, they are getting a huge transfer fee and I'm sure Sir Alex Ferguson will bring in some quality players. Ronaldo will be hard to replace, but there are players out there - if you have the right budget - who can replace him.
La Liga v the Premier League. has the power shifted now because of Ronaldo and Kaka joining Madrid and Barca winning the Champions League?
Spanish Armada: Torres insists La Liga will not overpower the Premier League despite Real Madrid signing both Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo (R) this summer
TORRES: Kaka and Ronaldo are fantastic players, but the signing of two players does not mean the power has shifted. The amount of English teams consistently in the last four of the European Cup over the last few years has shown that it is the strongest. Barcelona play fantastic football and Madrid are buying some big players but, like I said, I expect world-class players to arrive in England this summer and it will take more than a couple of big signings to change the balance in power.
But Madrid must now be serious contenders for the European Cup, right?
TORRES: Again that is just a reaction to their spending. Their signing will improve them no doubt, but they are still a long way off Barcelona. They are behind the English clubs too - Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester have all been consistent in the European Cup for a long while. Real Madrid have improved their chances, but the new players have to be able to work together.
Liverpool are close to signing Glen Johnson.
TORRES: We have total trust in the boss and we will trust whoever he brings in, but yes, Glen Johnson has had an excellent season. He has established himself as the first-choice right back in what is now an England team playing very good football. He is used to playing top-four football, so there would be no issue about him making the step up.
Michael Owen has been linked with Liverpool, too.
TORRES: I know that he is a big part of the history of this football club and that the fans at Anfield loved him. I have no idea where he will be playing next season, but I am convinced that he still has a lot to offer. He has been unlucky with injuries in recent years and I know how frustrating that can be, but he has a natural instinct in front of goal and you don't lose that just because you have been injured.
But what about the prospect of losing Javier Mascherano?
TORRES: Javier loves it at Liverpool - that is all I can tell you. In the summer people like to make a lot of noises about world-class players - and Javier is a worldclass player. He has said himself that he is very happy at Anfield and there is no reason for him to want to leave.