Chelsea play down offer for Liverpool striker Fernando Torres

Liverpool appear to be set for a battle to keep striker Fernando Torres out of the clutches of Chelsea after turning down a bid from the Stamford Bridge club.

The Reds have no intention of parting with one of their prized assets and rejected an offer in the region of £35million from the Barclays Premier League's defending champions.

However, that is no guarantee the Blues will not return with an improved offer and the player's agent is reportedly intimating his client is interested in exploring a possible move.

If that is the case it would be an obvious worry for the Anfield club as the 26-year-old has never previously hinted at leaving - even when rumours were at their peak when he returned to Merseyside last summer as a World Cup winner.

Liverpool will continue to rebuff approaches for the striker as they are determined to build their squad around him in the short to medium term.

Missing out on the Champions League for the second successive season, however, would make things more complicated with players wanting to compete among Europe's elite.

"The player is not for sale," said a club spokesman.

"Chelsea have made a bid for Fernando which has been turned down."

Blues coach Carlo Ancelotti would not be drawn on the move in his press conference ahead of tomorrow's FA Cup clash with Liverpool's local rivals Everton.

The Italian said: "I don't want to speak about this, you will have to ask the club. He is not my player and I have to have respect for Liverpool.

"I am happy because the club is doing a fantastic job in this transfer market. The club is trying to do everything to improve the squad.

"For tomorrow I don't need more strikers. Maybe in the future, I don't know."

As part of their squad-strengthening plans the Reds are still pursuing a deal for Ajax forward Luis Suarez, with the Dutch club's coach Frank de Boer having set a deadline of midnight tonight for an agreement to be reached.

The transfer could be significant as it is seen as a statement of intent by owners Fenway Sports Group - currently negotiating their first transfer window, having taken over in October.

It has been accepted for some time that Torres needs support up front and Suarez would provide that, although the two clubs are way apart in their valuations of the player.

FSG have always insisted their main priority in the transfer window is to sign players who represent the best value and are unwilling to pay over-inflated prices.

However, chairman Tom Werner did accept that money was available to strengthen the squad and they were capable of buying a big-name star if it benefited the club in the long term.

Reports from Holland suggest discussions are ongoing and that Ajax expect an improved bid from Liverpool later today.

De Boer said he is still hopeful of having the Uruguay international, who has been serving a suspension, in his side this weekend although he admitted a bid of around £21million - Liverpool have so far offered something in the region of £12.9million - would probably clinch a deal.

"From the bottom of my heart, I hope on Sunday for our next match with NAC that I can call on him," he told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

"I think it is a 50-50 chance that Suarez continues (with us).

"They know what we want for Suarez. Luis is gone when they pay that amount. I expect to get a higher bid.

"Liverpool know what they have to pay, if they do it by the weekend then we will have time to take action."

He added in De Telegraaf: "If you compare the 15million euros (£12.9million) Liverpool want to pay for Suarez with other transfers you can imagine that it's far too low for us.

"Luis is our top goalscorer for the last three years and also the man with by far the most assists.

"He was one of the big guys for Uruguay in helping them come third in the World Cup in the summer and he still has a contract with us for two-and-a-half years."