Premier League

Record breaker: Torres off to Chelsea

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LONDON (AP)

Chelsea smashed the British transfer record by signing Fernando Torres for a reported 50 million pounds ($79.5 million) from Liverpool on Monday.

The Spain striker signed a 5 1/2-year contract at Chelsea in a move described by Liverpool as a British record.

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The transfer is also one of the most expensive in the history of world football, bettered only by Real Madrid's purchases of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka in 2009. It is a similar figure to that paid to Inter Milan by Barcelona for Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2009, a deal that sent Samuel Eto'o to the Italian team.

Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez was widely recognized as being the previous most expensive signing within British football after moving from Man United for about 47 million pounds in 2009.

Torres spent 3 1/2 years at Liverpool, scoring 81 goals, but grew frustrated as the 18-time league champions struggled to keep pace with England's leading clubs.

"I am very happy with my transfer to Chelsea and I am looking forward very much to helping my new teammates this season and for many years to come," Torres said. "Having played against Chelsea many times since coming to England, and in some very big games I will never forget, I know there are many great players here and I will work hard to win a place in the team.

"I hope I can score some important goals for the supporters to enjoy this season."

Torres' first game for Chelsea could be against Liverpool in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, unless he features at Sunderland on Tuesday.

"This is a very significant day for Chelsea, capturing one of the best players in the world with his peak years ahead of him," Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said. "We have long admired the talents of a player who is a proven goal-scorer in English football, and Fernando's arrival is a sign of our continuing high ambitions. I hope every Chelsea fan is as excited as I am with this news."

Liverpool replaced Torres by breaking the club's transfer record twice in the space of a few hours, first signing Luis Suarez from Ajax for €26.5 million ($36 million) and then Andy Carroll from Newcastle for a reported 35 million pounds ($56 million).

Torres, who had 2 1/2 years left on his contract at Liverpool, has regained some form over the last few weeks after struggling early in the season as he recovered from a groin injury.

Three of his nine goals this season have come in the past four games. Overall, he scored 81 goals in 142 games for Liverpool.

Torres remained one of the most sought-after players in world football despite a disappointing contribution to Spain's World Cup win in South Africa last year. In 2008, he scored in Spain's 1-0 victory over Germany in the European Championship final.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti now has multiple options in attack, with Torres joining Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba and former France forward Nicolas Anelka, but how they will all fit into the team remains to be seen.

Torres appears to be a better long-term option than Drogba, who turns 33 in March and hasn't been as prolific this season as he was when he scored 37 goals for Chelsea last term.

Torres lost patience with Liverpool because of the club's poor form over the past 18 months. The Reds finished seventh in the Premier League in 2010 and made their worst start to a campaign for 56 years this season.

With the prospects of silverware slim at Liverpool, Torres will be hoping to win trophies at Chelsea, the defending Premier League and FA Cup champions.

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