Torres casts doubt over Atletico Madrid future

July 17, 2006

MADRID, July 17 (Reuters) - The future of Spain striker Fernando Torres at Atletico Madrid remains uncertain, the club's coach Javier Aguirre said.

'I've spoken to Fernando and he hasn't been able to guarantee his presence in the team in the forthcoming season,' Aguirre was quoted as saying in sports daily Marca on Monday.

'The market is still open and a lot of things can happen, but it is clear that every day that passes is one day less for something to occur. What I want to make clear, though, is that Fernando has a great commitment to the club.'

Spanish and English media have reported that Manchester United are prepared to make a bid for the 22-year-old international who was one of Spain's most impressive performers at the World Cup.

The former youth team player has become the talisman at Atletico ever since making his debut as a 17-year-old when the club was in the second division.

He has been the top scorer in each of the last four seasons and is a fixture in the national side. He scored three goals at the World Cup.

Torres has been linked with Newcastle United, Barcelona, AC Milan and Tottenham Hotspur over the course of the last two seasons.

Atletico, who finished 12th in the Primera Liga last season, appear to have good back-up coverage up front if Torres does leave the club.

They paid a club record fee of close to $28 million for Argentine teenager Sergio Aguero in May, while his compatriot Maxi Rodriguez and Serbia striker Mateja Kezman are also in the squad.

Kezman, who had a disappointing first season at Atletico and scored just eight league goals, told the club's website that he is determined to stay put.

'I know there have been offers for me because a lot of coaches have rung me,' said Kezman. 'But I have always said that I want to stay here. The fans haven't seen the best of Kezman.

'It's a new season, we've got new hopes and dreams, a new coach and a lot of players. This is a big club with big ambitions.'