Torres heading back to Merseyside

The Spain international travelled to Barcelona at the weekend to

see specialist Dr Ramon Cugat, the surgeon who in January performed

the operation on the torn meniscus which kept him out for a month.

With Cugat having said that rest should allow Torres to feature

next week, manager Rafael Benitez and his medical staff will have

to decide whether their star striker will be fit enough to face

West Ham on Monday. Torres is desperate to face former club

Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final

in the Spanish capital on Thursday and so he – and Benitez – may

consider the Hammers game too much of a risk. Spain are certainly

keeping a keen eye on developments with the World Cup less than two

months away. “Until the rest period imposed by the doctor has

passed, we will not know the extent of the injury,” said the

Spanish Football Federation’s sporting director Fernando Hierro. “I

talk to Torres every day and he is optimistic. I am too. Hopefully

the problem is due to a knock, because it reduces the risk.”

Another of Liverpool’s injury worries Fabio Aurelio could be set

for a summer departure from Anfield after Greek side Olympiacos

expressed an interest in signing the Brazilian. The 30-year-old is

out of contract at the end of the season and his bad luck with

injuries – he has made just 13 starts and 10 substitute appearances

this season and is still sidelined by a thigh strain sustained at

the end of February – could mean an end to his stay on Merseyside.

Benitez has been frustrated by Aurelio’s problems as it has meant

the less experienced Emiliano Insua has had to play the majority of

matches with no other cover on the left side of defence. Should

Aurelio leave in the summer it would Benitez again looking for

another left-back, having sold mis-fit Andrea Dossena in January

after just 18 disappointing months at the club. The future of

Benitez himself has come to the fore again with Juventus, who made

him their number one managerial target to take over from caretaker

boss Alberto Zaccheroni three months ago, reportedly giving the

Spaniard 10 days to express an interest in moving to Turin. Benitez

distanced himself from the Italian club at the time and despite

disappointing Premier League and Champions League campaigns,

winning the Europa League remains a possibility. The prospect of

new owners, or at least an improved summer transfer budget, will

have been received positively by the Spaniard who has four years

left to run on a long-term contract he only signed just over 12

months ago. Despite the new speculation, Benitez’s agent Manuel

Garcia Quilon has denied meeting with officials from the Italian

club. “I haven’t met with Juventus, I was here in Madrid,” Quilon

told Calciomercato.it. “I reaffirm that Benitez has a four-year

deal with Liverpool so he remains there. “But in the coming months

I don’t know what will happen.”