Chelsea land Torres and Luiz for £71m

CHELSEA’S newest recruit Fernando Torres toasted his arrival at “one of the top clubs in the world” after completing a £50m move from Liverpool to become the most expensive signing ever by a British club.

Torres last night clinched a five-and-a-half-year contract thought to be worth £175,000-a-week as Premier League clubs threw caution to the wind and took January transfer window spending to a record £215m.

The Blues also wrapped up a £21m deal for Benfica defender David Luiz as they returned to their extravagant ways of old in spectacular fashion, shelling out a combined £71m before the 11pm deadline.

Incredibly, Chelsea’s enormous outlay came just hours after the club announced an operating loss of more than £68m for the last financial year.

Spain striker Torres is in line for an emotionally charged debut when Liverpool, the team he asked to leave having grown disillusioned by their decline, visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday. But the 26-year-old World Cup winner showed no mixed feelings last night when he declared his delight at joining a club he sees as a significant improvement on the transitional Anfield outfit.

“I’m a Chelsea player, I’m really happy and I’m sure I’m making a big step forward in my career,” said Torres.

“Everyone is expecting a lot of good things for me and I’m prepared and ready for the challenge. They’re the kind of team I like to play for because it’s always very tough against them – they are one of the biggest teams in Europe, always fighting for everything.

“After that there is no step forward; this is the top level and this is the target for every footballer, trying to play for one of the top clubs in the world – and I can do it now.”

The fee makes Torres the fourth most expensive player in history and obliterates the previous highest paid by a British club, when Manchester City paid Real Madrid £32m for Robinho in August 2008.

Such extravagance reaffirms faith that owner Roman Abramovich retains enthusiasm for the club, and will provide a huge boost as they look to hold onto their top-four status.

Brazil international Luiz (inset) has signed until summer 2016 in a deal that will see midfielder Nemanja Matic move to Benfica. Chelsea also let young striker Daniel Sturridge join Bolton on loan until the end of the season.