Having long promised Chelsea's support a marquee signing without delivering, owner Roman Abramovich must now decide whether to release a club-record sum to secure a player he deeply admires.
A British record fee of £50 million (Dh292.5m) is Liverpool's asking price for Torres, though their American owners would also be prepared to accept a package including a ready-made replacement, such as the former France striker Nicolas Anelka.
Despite rejecting a transfer request from Torres late on Friday, senior figures at Anfield accept the club's interests might be best served by letting Torres go - if the deal is right.
Chelsea's billionaire owner now faces a test of commitment to the club. Abramovich, the big-spending Russian, has coveted Torres for several years and been rebuffed in previous efforts to acquire him.
Having refashioned himself as a grudging transfer-market operator since 2007, while applying radical cuts to Chelsea's budget, Abramovich must now significantly surpass the record £32.5m spent by Manchester City on Robinho, to land the unhappy Spaniard.
Chelsea have had two bids for Torres rejected, the second thought to be worth £40m, and must now deliver an acceptable offer before the January transfer window slams shuts at 11pm (GMT) tomorrow.
Yesterday they confirmed a protracted attempt to buy Brazil defender, David Luiz, has been abandoned over Benfica's demands for a €28m (Dh140m) fee and training compensation to his former club - indicating their efforts are now focused on landing Torres.
One of Chelsea's proposals to Liverpool involved offering cash plus England Under 21 striker, Daniel Sturridge.
Liverpool would consider such a deal if the makeweight was more of an A-List forward, such as Didier Drogba or Anelka - who unsuccessfully petitioned Chelsea for a contract extension earlier this season.
Having improved their league position under Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool have targeted a top-six finish and the Europa League but require proven scorers to complete the job.
Dalglish had envisaged pairing Torres with Luis Suarez, the Uruguayan striker Liverpool have agreed to buy from the Dutch club Ajax for €26.5m (Dh132.4m).
Though the Scot took over from Roy Hodgson this month with the intention of retaining Torres, he does not want unhappy players in his dressing room and will not oppose Liverpool's owners, New England Sports Ventures, if they accept a huge fee for the 26-year-old.
Torres, due back at training today after spending most of yesterday in Spain, expects his transfer to Chelsea to go through by tomorrow.
It is understood a deal can be reached easily on the striker's weekly wages, currently £110,000, and well within a Chelsea's pay structure that tops out at £150,000 a week.