AC MILAN have agreed a two-year loan deal with Chelsea to take striker Fernando Torres to the San Siro, the Italian club announced last night.
The 30-year-old Spanish international, who has endured two and a half frustrating years at Stamford Bridge, is set to bring his troubled days in London to an end and will undergo a medical in Milan today.
Torres, who still has two years remaining on his £150,000 per week contract with Chelsea, has scored 45 goals in 172 appearances for the club since his £50 million move from Liverpool in 2011, and has been out of favour with manager Jose Mourinho, as new forward Diego Costa and old favourite Didier Drogba have moved ahead of him in the frontline pecking order.
Milan, who were desperate to bring in a cut-price, big-name striker after selling Mario Balotelli to Liverpool for £16m, were believed to have targeted Queen’s Park Rangers attacker Adel Taarabt, but have dropped their interest following the deal with Torres.
The Spaniard’s departure leaves Mourinho searching for a replacement before Monday’s transfer deadline and he admits that he is looking at a striker shortage, with Costa doubtful for Chelsea’s trip to Everton today.
The Spanish hitman, signed in the summer for £32m from Atletico Madrid, scored in Chelsea’s opening Premier League victories over Burnley and Leicester City before picking up a muscle injury in training this week.
“We are trying everything for him to play tomorrow,” Mourinho said yesterday. “He didn’t train for the last two days but today is the last day and we must make a decision to select him or not.
“He has to try a light training session to see if the reaction is positive. If it is we will take him to Everton to play or be on the bench, if the reaction is not positive then obviously we don’t select him.” If Costa fails to recover, Didier Drogba could lead the line against tenth-placed Everton.
With Torres out of the picture, Mourinho lamented: “What we have clear as a club is that we need three strikers this season. If he (Torres) wants to leave, I believe it’s because he wants to try a new life, a new club, probably a new league. I believe it is to try to be happier than he was in the last couple of years.”
Ex-Chelsea men Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto’o could face their former club when the sides clash at Goodison Park in today’s late kick-off.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez will make a late decision on 33-year-old Eto’o’s involvement but he expects Lukaku to play despite a sore toe.
Manchester United top the Premier League spending charts but after a dismal start to life under Louis van Gaal they badly need to beat promoted Burnley in today’s lunchtime fixture.
The arrival of Argentine winger Angel di Maria from Real Madrid for a British-record £59.7 million took their spending this transfer window to more than £130m but, as Van Gaal knows, cash is no guarantee of success.
The experienced Dutchman has yet to register a competitive victory, picking up one point from two league games and suffering an embarrassing 4-0 League Cup thrashing at MK Dons on Tuesday. Although Van Gaal insists it will take time for the squad to adjust to his methods, rapid improvement is required at Turf Moor.
“Our problem is when we have the ball,” Van Gaal said. “We have to build up the play and we have to improve that. So I don’t think our defence is weak – no, our build-up is still not good enough and we shall improve that, but that needs time.”
United are missing Michael Carrick, Shinji Kagawa and Luke Shaw through injury, while Marcos Rojo has yet to receive a work permit.
Also today, champions Manchester City host Stoke, Queens Park Rangers face Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion travel to Swansea, West Ham entertain Southampton and new Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock takes his team to Newcastle United.
Tottenham have made a steady start under new boss Mauricio Pochettino, and will hope to banish the memories of two heavy defeats by Liverpool last season when they host the Merseysiders tomorrow.
Liverpool tore Spurs to shreds, winning the matches by a combined 9-0, but under Pochettino they are yet to concede in the league. “The past is the past. It is a new season,” said Pochettino.
The Reds have been boosted by the purchase of controversial striker Balotelli from AC Milan and being drawn with Real Madrid in the Champions League group stage.
Aston Villa host Hull City and Arsenal travel to Leicester City in tomorrow’s other matches.