Andy Carroll last night launched a scathing attack on Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley for selling him against his wishes to Liverpool for £35m in the most extraordinary transfer deadline day in memory.
The England striker said that he had been "pushed out the door" by Ashley whose chairman Derek Llambias negotiated a club record fee for the 22-year-old. Carroll, currently injured, was flown to Liverpool by private jet. The replacement for Fernando Torres, sold to Chelsea for a British transfer record of £50m, Carroll texted a fans' website to express his disgust at his former club.
Carroll, whose fee broke the record paid for a British player, said: "I'm gutted to be leaving my hometown club, I was told to go. I didn't want to leave that's why I signed a five-year deal [with Newcastle in October]. I was pushed out of the door."
There were the makings of an ugly public relations battle over Carroll's departure with the club claiming earlier that the player himself had put in a transfer request.
There was further dismay among Newcastle fans last night when it emerged that the club had attempted a £12m bid to sign former player Charles N'Zogbia from Wigan Athletic. Sold for £6m two years ago, N'Zogbia was unpopular with fans.
Carroll has signed a deal that keeps him at Anfield until 2016 and he inherits Torres's No 9 shirt. Liverpool also completed the signing of the Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez from Ajax for £22.6m.
On wages of around £175,000-a-week, Torres has also signed until 2016. The club completed the transfer from Benfica of the Brazilian centre-back David Luiz in return for £21.5m and Nemanja Matic, the Serb midfielder.
Torres risked further controversy with Liverpool fans last night by saying that he was now at a "top-level" club. He said: "It [Chelsea] is the top level and I think it is the target for every footballer to play at one of the top-level clubs and I am doing that now."
He said he had a "very hard" four days while the transfer was finalised "for everything I left behind in Liverpool". "I'm really happy and I am sure I am taking a big step forward in my career joining a club like Chelsea. It's a great club with a responsibility and everyone will be expecting good things for me and I am prepared and ready for the challenge."
The Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said the Torres signing was a "significant day" for the club and signalled their "continuing high ambitions". Torres will not be permitted to play in the club's game away at Sunderland tonight because he signed after yesterday's 5pm deadline for registering players to play the following day.
A first £30m bid for Carroll from Liverpool was tabled overnight on Sunday and rejected by Newcastle yesterday morning. Liverpool were adamant that Torres would not be allowed to leave until a replacement was found and the prospect of a deal with Chelsea was looking very slim as late as Sunday night.
With Torres' agents pacing around Liverpool's training ground Melwood yesterday, tension mounted as Newcastle themselves asked for time to find a replacement for Carroll. Tottenham's Peter Crouch and Cardiff City's Jay Bothroyd were both suggested but the window closed last night without Newcastle spending any of the Carroll funds.
It was only yesterday afternoon that the Carroll deal was tied up, freeing Torres to depart for a medical in west London. Newcastle quoted Tottenham £30m earlier in the month when they inquired about Carroll and could not refuse when Liverpool met the £35m valuation. Carroll's wages are expected to rise from £20,000-a-week to £70,000-a-week.
The size of the Carroll deal almost overshadowed Chelsea's own huge straight cash offer for Torres, which they are understood to be paying in cash instalments across the course of a five-year deal. A record £214.5m was spent in this transfer window.
Liverpool manager KennyDalglish delivered an advance parting shot to Torres by saying any player who believed he was bigger than Liverpool was "a wee bit stupid and irresponsible".
The Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge has gone on loan to Bolton Wanderers.