By Wayne Veysey | Chief correspondent
Senior figures at Chelsea believe that the Spaniard’s chequered injury history would make a straight £50m payment up front too big a risk.The Double winners are believed to have initiated talks with Liverpool over a transfer before Torres collapsed in pain during the final stages of Spain’s 1-0 World Cup final win over Holland. Tests in Spain confirmed on Wednesday that the World Cup winner suffered a small tear to his left thigh muscle.
He has been told to have three weeks of complete rest and will then undergo a specifically tailored rehabilitation programme aimed at getting him fit for the start of the new season.
Liverpool’s restructured medical staff, which includes five new employees headed by Australian Peter Brukner, head of sports science and medicine, will adopt a cautious strategy after a dreadful year for Torres in terms of injuries.
His run has included two knee operations, a hernia and recurrent hamstring problems, and his lack of match sharpness was patently obvious in South Africa, where he failed to score and eventually lost his starting place after a series of under-par displays.
Chelsea have not been deterred by Torres’ latest injury and sources say they are confident they can strike a deal once the player returns from holiday.
However, there is a growing feeling at Stamford Bridge that the club’s pursuit of the player should take into account the number of niggling injuries he has suffered in the last two of his three seasons at Anfield.
By offering £20m of the £50m in appearance-related add-ons, Chelsea believe they can minimise the risk of what would be the most expensive deal in Premier League history.
Sources say Torres may require a sustained period of rehabilitation, allowing him to build up his strength and fitness on the training pitch to completely recover from the injury problems that have curtailed his appearances over the last 12 months.
Chelsea believe the player would benefit from being used more sparingly when he returns to fitness and will try and persuade him that he would be under less pressure in west London to be rushed back to the first team and carry the goalscoring burden.
Manchester City hope Chelsea’s reluctance to meet Liverpool’s asking price can open the door for them to entice the player to Eastlands. They are continuing to monitor the Spaniard’s availability even though they cannot offer Champions League football.
Roy Hodgson, the new Liverpool manager, is planning to visit Torres in Spain as he attempts to persuade the striker to stay on Merseyside.
Hodgson has admitted that Liverpool's senior players are "disenchanted" by last season's ignominious campaign. Nevertheless, the club continue to insist that Torres is not for sale, even at £70m.