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Football: Torres will not be sold, insist Atletico; Madrid are looking to rebuff any Liverpool move for Spanish striker.

Byline: BY NICK SMITH Daily Post Staff

ATLETICO MADRID are ready to resist any attempt Liverpool make to prise away Fernando Torres by telling them he's not for sale.

Rafael Benitez is considering a pounds 16million bid for the Spanish forward but the Liverpool manager is set to face stiff opposition from a Madrid side determined to keep their captain.

Torres has long been admired by many of Europe's top clubs and turned down a move to Chelsea last summer after impressing in Spain's brief run to the last 16 of the World Cup.

And the 23-year-old fits the bill for Benitez as he looks to strengthen his forward line with a versatile all-round striker of proven international quality.

Torres has scored 14 goals in 42 appearances for Spain and 82 in 212 league appearances for Atletico since signing his first contract for them when he was just 15.

His current deal expires in 2009 and as the La Liga club's prized asset and skipper, they are hoping to persuade him to ignore more attention from the Premiership.

It might be more difficult for them if Torres insists he wants a move and he did recently sport a captain's armband with the title of Liverpool's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' printed on the reverse.

But Atletico will continue to play hardball over a transfer fee and could price Liverpool out if they stick to the release figure in the striker's contract - believed to be around pounds 27million - leaving Benitez to pursue other targets on his wanted list.

Meanwhile, Lyon have rejected suggestions they have already agreed to sell Florent Malouda to Chelsea - leaving Liverpool still in the hunt for the French international.

Jose Mourinho is an admirer of the winger, who has already indicated he wants to quit Stade Gerland and spoken of interest from both Stamford Bridge and Anfield.

Chelsea were reportedly on the brink of a deal with Lyon but the French club's head of communications, Olivier Blanc, insists an agreement has not been reached.

Blanc declared: "Contrary to what I've heard, there is no agreement with Chelsea about Malouda, and absolutely nothing about a swap deal with Lassana Diarra we turned down a fortnight ago."

Lyon last week slapped a pounds 17masking price on Malouda in an attempt to attract inflated bids from the likes of Chelsea.

Liverpool have been weighing up an pounds 8m bid but talks have stalled while Lyon hold out for a higher sum.

INTER MILAN president Massimo Moratti has shrugged off concerns the club could be forced to hand back their 2005-06 league title after they found themselves wrapped up in a financial probe.

Moratti and AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani are being investigated following allegations certain transfer fees were inflated between 2003 and 2005 in order to secure fictitious capital gains.

Covisoc, the group which monitors the finances of Italian football clubs, has stated Inter would not have had the required financial security to have competed in the 2005-06 Serie A season if full details had been available.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 21, 2007
Words:511
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