“Fernando Torres is a fantastic striker,” said Mancini.This is a pretty clear admission of the truth in the 'two lists' report: that we have a set of players we will target if we are playing Champions League football next year, and a set if we are playing Europa League. It makes perfect sense. We've looked fairly silly in the past by throwing ourselves at Champions League level players armed with only sacks of cash and vague promises of success. John Terry, Samuel Eto'o, and Kaká all thought very carefully about joining before deciding against it. (None have played that well since making that decision but that's another story.)
“But all the teams in Europe are interested in him.
“We must get the rest of the matches out of the way first, then we will decide about other players...
“All the top players want to play in the Champions League,” added Mancini.
“Next year we want to be a team who wins the Premier League. To do that we need top players.”
If we're in the Champions League this changes. The combination of a place in Europe's elite competition, plus the six figures a week minimum that we pay would bring a different calibre of footballer to Eastlands next season. Whether or not Torres would be such a player depends on his own loyalty to Liverpool more than anything else, but players of roughly his level could certainly be convinced.
But as it stands I think we're just going to miss out on Champions League football. Which means that plans for Torres and Milner can be junked. We will still be able to attract good players - like Jérôme Boateng - to supplement our squad. But the idea of being able to turn our squad into 2010/11 Premier League title contenders armed with Europa League level recruits sounds a bit far-fetched.