Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke, a player reported to be on the radar of Manchester United, has hailed Fernando Torres as an ‘inspiration’ ahead of the Champions League meeting with Chelsea on Tuesday evening.
Chelsea face Atleti at the Vicente Calderon having narrowly dispatched of Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-final of the competition and, despite his late heroics, Demba Ba will not be afforded a start in Madrid. Torres instead is the man tasked with leading the line against his former club.
Torres spent seven seasons in the Atletico first-team having progressed through the club’s youth set-up before the Spain international secured a transfer to Liverpool. Given his endeavours for Atletico, Torres is still held in high-regard by the club’s supporters, and Koke says the 30-year-old will be welcomed back.
"Fernando Torres has always been an inspiration for me," Koke told reporters. "I'm sure all the fans will be happy to see him here. We wish him all the luck in the world, but not in the game."
This season is expected to be Torres’ last at Chelsea with Jose Mourinho likely to ship out the player in order to bring an upgrade to Stamford Bridge during the summer transfer window. Atletico is a reported potential destination for Torres, with Diego Costa likely to head in the opposite direction.
Koke, meanwhile, has also seen his future become the subject of much speculation given his fine performances this season, with Manchester United credited with interest in bringing the player to Old Trafford.
Despite this supposed interest of Manchester United, however, Atletico will feel relatively secure given that Koke has a €50 million release clause written into a recently renegotiated new contract.