CHELSEA owner Roman Abramovich is reported to have flown to South Africa as the club made a formal bid to sign Liverpool striker Fernando Torres.
Billionaire Abramovich is believed to have sanctioned an offer of about $70 million for the Spaniard, who is preparing for tomorrow morning's World Cup semi-final against Germany in Durban.
But there are conflicting reports about Abramovich's presence in South Africa, with some saying he is there just to see the World Cup and others that he wants to oversee the chase for Torres.
Meanwhile, Torres turned down the opportunity to commit his future to Liverpool in an interview with Catalan newspaper El Mundo Deportivo .
"I suppose that when the World Cup finishes I will speak to the people at Liverpool and they will explain to me the real situation of how things are at present, and the future of the club," he said.
"Honestly, teams (trying to buy players) won't be able to do anything until the World Cup has finished. The players here prefer to wait—there is time."
And although Liverpool are likely to demand considerably more than $70 million for their prized asset, Abramovich is ready to part with anything up to $110 million for such a marquee signing as Torres.
New Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has already admitted he can offer no guarantee that either Torres or skipper Steven Gerrard will be at Anfield next season.
And given Liverpool's precarious financial situation, a concerted effort to sign Torres by Chelsea is likely to prove impossible to resist.
Ironically, Torres is currently sweating on his place in Spain's starting line-up for tomorrow's World Cup semi-final against Germany, with speculation rife that he will be dropped in favor of either Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas or Manchester City new boy David Silva.
Torres admits he has not fully recovered from knee surgery in April.
He has failed to score in Spain's five games so far and added he understands some of the criticism of him and that he has had his share of "difficult moments."