Wednesday, May 15th 2013, Amsterdam. Another final, another goal and another trophy for Fernando Torres. There aren’t many finals that Torres has been involved in and lost. There are even fewer he hasn’t scored in.
Torres has had his best campaign in three seasons this term and if you include the Golden Boot trophy in the FIFA European Championship for Spain, being named in the team of the competition for the Europa League and take into account the fact he’s scored 21 goals this season, you cant help but ask: Is Fernando Torres getting back to being El Nino?
Yet despite scoring 21 goals in club competitions and three in internationals he is still largely regarded as a bit-part player, as a player past his prime. In addition to scoring 21 goals this season he has assisted 11.
"Yeah, but he only scored seven Premier League goals this season", I hear you say. True, but if you look at when his league goals began to dry up it falls right around the time of the January transfer window. Before the rumours of Demba Ba, and Ba’s subsequent arrival, Torres had been playing relatively pressure free; his job was guaranteed.
Look at his record in the Europa League - nine games, six goals. With Ba cup-tied for the Europa League, Torres knew that he would play in every Europa League match. With Rafa Benitez juggling two strikers from January onwards, how could Torres know when he would start and when he would not?
For Chelsea this season, Torres has played a key part in 32 goals. For comparisons sake, Wayne Rooney has played a key role in 31 goals this season for Manchester United. I don’t remember hearing many people branding Wayne Rooney a flop this season, do you?
We all know why people are so hard on Torres - that transfer fee. The astronomical £50 million (which was only £15m more than Andy Carroll and down from the £70 million Liverpool asked in the summer prior to Torres' move) that gave the media the power to crush his confidence and focus the spotlight directly on El Nino.
The problem is though is that transfer fees are measured in terms of performance on the pitch. Is he worth £X million? and has he paid back his transfer fee? How can three goals in his first 15 games be worth £35 million?
We’ve all asked those questions, even I. Except while the fans and media will continue to compare performance to the fee paid for a certain player, I have news for you. You’re wrong.
You see, a player’s value is much greater than that of performance on the pitch, it helps, I grant you, but it is not the sole factor on which any given team considers when spending £50 million on a sole player. There’s a much bigger thing going on here - money, and how much of it can we make?
Clubs make money in a number of ways but the ones that I am going to specifically focus on are prize money, gate receipts and shirt sales. Chelsea rake in a lot of money from just these three things. And if you take into account Torres’ contribution to Chelsea this season, the amount of money he has helped them amass is actually rather astonishing.
First of all a little background knowledge. Chelsea sell around one million shirts per year worldwide, 18.7% of their total shirt sales are 'Torres 9' shirts. Torres’ Chelsea number nine shirt is the third most popular shirt in North America behind only Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. Globally? Torres is third again.
If Torres sells 18.7% of one million, that equals 187,000 shirts. The average price for a new Chelsea shirt with Torres on the back of it is £53.50. That means we can assume an amount of £10,004,500 for shirt sales just attributed to Torres. He was also the face of Chelsea’s tour to Asia.
Struggles or not, Torres is a marketing machine and with his performances in this year’s Europa League, coupled with the prior success of Chelsea in the Champions League last season, Chelsea project to sell around a quarter of a million Torres shirts in the next 12 months. That number would be £13,375,000. In case you were wondering.
Right here we have £23,379,500 in revenue (albeit next year's projected figures) produced by a man who cost Chelsea a fee of £50,000,000. What’s more interesting is what happens if you take away Torres’ goals and assists for this season.
Chelsea finished third in the Premier League, won the Europa League and got to the semi-final of the FA Cup. Torres’ goals have come in important games for the Blues this season and they have even more important ramifications in terms of prize money and future prize money.
Without Torres’ goals, Chelsea would be fifth in the Premier League with 68 points, at the mercy of Arsenal’s last game of the season. Chelsea would have been eliminated in the fourth round of the FA Cup by Brentford and would’ve been out in the third round of the Europa League by Steaua Bucharesti.
Here’s the breakdown of the revenue Chelsea amassed by having runs in the Europa League and FA Cup, as well as their third place finish in the Premier League versus where they would’ve ended without Torres’ goals.
With Torres' goals:
Premier League | 3rd: £13,600,000
FA Cup | Semi-finalists: £1,147,500
FA Cup gate receipts: £4,676,441
Europa League | Winners: £5,750,000
Europa League gate receipts: £4,938,030
Shirt sales: £10,004,500
Without Torres' goals:
Premier League | 5th: £12,000,000
FA Cup | 4th round: £67,500
FA Cup gate receipts: £622,464
Europa League | 3rd round: £168,655
Europa League gate receipts: £1,159,260
Shirt sales: £10,004,500
That’s a difference of £16,094,092 in estimated revenue for the year. Even though Torres has struggled since his move from Anfield, he has been paying back his transfer fee since day one – initially outselling Carroll of Liverpool by 250 shirts to 1. Now El Nino has his eye for goal back, it seems like he may pay off the rest of the fee very soon, if not already.
If you take into account that Chelsea’s losses for this year are going to be around £4 million after taxes, then the extra £16 million that Torres’ goals have brought in this season is the difference between £4 million in losses and £20 million in losses, and with Financial Fair Play looming, that's a big, big help for Chelsea.
Torres has stated his desire to stay at Chelsea past the end of the season. If I were Chelsea I would welcome him back with open arms both from a marketing standpoint and a performance one.
The value of a player is much, much more complicated than just performances on the pitch. His performances have been stale until this past season, but his ability looks like it is waiting to burst back through at any moment.
If you asked me if Fernando Torres is worth £50 million given the data I would have to say yes. And I would follow by saying he’s probably worth even more than that.
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