Fernando Torres cast doubt on his Liverpool future tonight when he passed up the opportunity to commit himself to the club. He said he had not read remarks made by one of his representatives in which supporters were reassured that the Spaniard would continue at Anfield. The striker also hinted at the extent to which his decision depends on the financial and institutional future of the club by revealing that he has maintained regular contact with the club's chief executive, Christian Purslow, and manager, Rafael Benítez. Torres, who has previously warned of the urgent need for investment, admitted that the departure of the owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks could help the club.
Torres's remarks come amid speculation over his future following a deeply disappointing season for Liverpool and the Guardian understands the 26-year-old has sought reassurance before committing his future. Liverpool's institutional crisis while the club look for a buyer means any definitive decision remains on hold but Torres has not ruled out a departure.
The comments also followed former Liverpool chairman David Moores' appeal in a letter to the Times for the current owners to "stand aside" and sell up for the good of the club. Liverpool's estimated debt is £394m, of which £185m was incurred to finance the takeover by Gillett and Hicks. Moores, who said he "regrets" selling the club, insisted: "If they have a conscience or nobility they will stand aside and allow new owners to take over."
It had appeared that Torres would continue at Anfield after the reassurances of José Antonio Petún on Spanish radio last night. Petún, who is the chairman of Bahía International, the company that represents Torres, said: "For the moment I can assure fans that Fernando will continue at Liverpool next season. Everything is down to Liverpool's attitude but, for the time being, Fernando is happy at the club and has a good contract. Liverpool have not spoken to us about his future, so he is just concentrating on playing at the World Cup."
But asked about Petún's comments and his future today, Torres said simply: "I didn't read anything. My future is the World Cup and after we will see. But my future now and hopefully for the next two months is Spain and the World Cup."
He added: "I don't know [if the departure of Gillett and Hicks would help the club improve]. Hopefully. It is one of the [things] that we need in order to improve. I know what the situation of the club is. I talk to the chief executive [Purslow] and Rafa [Benítez] every week and I am aware about the situation. I do not know what the situation is right now because I am trying to stay apart from that and be focused on the national team. When the World Cup ends we'll see what happens."
Torres, who has been a constant defender of Benítez, has previously made it clear that Liverpool need investment, in comments that appeared to be a veiled threat towards Gillett and Hicks to back the coach with investment. In January, with Liverpool's season unravelling, he told FourFourTwo magazine: "It's now the owners' turn: they have to sign players so that this does not happen again. If we want to compete with [Manchester] United and Chelsea we need a much, much more complete squad, we need more genuinely first-class players and we can't let our best players leave."
In March Torres made similar remarks, insisting: "Without reinforcements we will be battling for fourth place – and I want to be competing for the league."