- Associated Press - Monday, January 31, 2011

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND (AP) - Chelsea has agreed a fee with Liverpool to sign Fernando Torres in what would be soccer’s third-most expensive transfer.

“The player has now been given permission to speak to the London club,” a Liverpool statement said Monday.

British media said Chelsea will pay about 50 million pounds ($79.5 million) for the Spanish forward, who will join a roster that already includes Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.

Liverpool, bought last fall by the parent company of the Boston Red Sox, looked set to replace Torres, who has spent 3 1/2 years at Liverpool after his move from Atletico Madrid, with Newcastle striker Andy Carroll and Ajax forward Luis Suarez on the final day of Europe’s January transfer window.

It would be the soccer’s third-most expensive transfer, exceeded by Real Madrid’s 2009 purchases of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United for 80 million pounds ($131 million) and Kaka from AC Milan for 65 million euros ($92 million). It will be a similar figure to that received by Inter Milan when the Italian side team sold Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona the same year, a deal that sent Samuel Eto’o to Inter.

Carroll’s transfer is for 35 million pounds ($56 million).

Torres, who is contracted to Liverpool until 2013, has regained some form over the last few weeks after struggling during the early part of the season as he recovered from a groin injury.

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

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

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