Recent Post

15 Juli 2008

Fernando Torres' warning for Barry and Keane

Fernando Torres has warned Gareth Barry and Robbie Keane to prepare for a culture shock as they close in on their dream moves to Liverpool.

Spanish striker Torres is set to return to pre-season after a summer in which he has lived up to his hype by scoring the winner in the Euro 2008 Final against Germany.

His heroics in Austria and Switzerland had come on the back of a stunning debut season on Merseyside, in which he netted 33 goals, 24 of them in the Premier League.

Now he is set to be joined by Aston Villa midfielder Barry and Spurs striker Keane, as manager Rafa Benitez beefs up Liverpool's British spine.

But Torres has given an assessment of his first season at Anfield, which will leave both players in no doubt about the high standards expected.

The former Atletico Madrid skipper said: "Rafa has taught me to demand a lot of myself daily, not to relax. When you are in a team where things are going mostly well, players tend to relax.

"But you must always push yourself and never become complacent, try to do your best every single day. At a club like Liverpool, you can't sit back after scoring 20-odd goals and say, 'Well, that's it'.

"After you score 20, Benitez is on at you during the next training session and stays on top of you all day, all week. He tells you to go off on your own and do new exercises.

"There are days when you think, "My God, this guy does not let you breathe'. At times like that you don't realise that all he wants is for you to improve.

"I want to progress in life, not relax, not be complacent. And you need someone close to you telling you to keep at it. It is impossible to do it otherwise.

"We don't always fancy having someone like that so close. But in the long term, I'm sure everybody will thank him for it."

Benitez is under pressure to deliver the Premier League title this term, after a campaign without a trophy last season which was characterised by his controversial rotation policy.

As such, he has undertaken an aggressive buying policy to reshape his side. Out have gone John Arne Riise to Roma, Mohamed Sissoko to Juventus and Peter Crouch to Portsmouth. And there are buyers being sought for Jermaine Pennant, Xabi Alonso and Andriy Voronin.

In have come defenders Philipp Degen from Borussia Dortmund and Andrea Dossena from Udinese, while Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri has been signed from Palmeiras.

Barry's position at Villa is virtually untenable after being barred from the club's facilities while Liverpool haggle over his £18m price tag.

Keane is hoping for a better campaign - wherever he plays - after Tottenham's league form tailed off following their Carling Cup win over Chelsea in February.

That victory qualified Spurs for this season's UEFA Cup but Benitez knows that the chance to play Champions League football will appeal to the Irishman.

Torres, however, has warned that with the chance to play to at the highest level comes a pressure to perform.

And he has only learned to cope with that by learning from consummate professional, Steven Gerrard.

He told Champions magazine: "I really admire Steven Gerrard because I know the pressure he is under every day, everybody talking about him all day long, in changing rooms, in the pubs, in the stadium.

"I've heard people say that he should be stronger, have a stronger personality. And I know from experience how difficult it is to deal with all that. He is at another level of course, because Liverpool is a huge club.

"But I was captain of my team from a very young age and I know everybody was talking about me. I could feel it. I could see it out of the corner of my eye - especially when things weren't going right.

"People look at you from a distance and challenge you with their eyes. All that happens every day to Stevie and he copes with it - he copes with everything that is expected of him all the time.

"He's always under tremendous pressure to perform and everyone looks to him to show leadership, to lift the team.

"He has been a great example to everyone and those of us who have been in a similar situation know how difficult it is to handle.

It's incredible how he carries himself regardless of what's going on."

And Torres added: "I'd love to be captain one day - Steven has shown me how to be a great leader."

Rafa Benitez has taught me to demand a lot of myself and never become complacent.