Fernando Torres' three years at Chelsea have, barring the odd moments of obvious success, been an extremely challenging and difficult watch.

Whether you like or positively loath the Spaniard, his rather rapid decline from one of the world's most-feared players into a somewhat average top-flight striker has been uncomfortable - not least because of how it has led to Torres becoming the unfortunate butt of so many tedious and painfully unfunny gags.

In truth, the 30-year-old has not been quite as appallingly awful for Chelsea as some would have you believe. His goal record at Stamford Bridge is rather paltry compared to his previous spells at Atletico Madrid and Liverpool, however, and it is arguably right that more should be expected of a striker that cost a whopping British record £50 million in 2011.

Transfer rumours

Given his ever-declining influence at Chelsea and manager Jose Mourinho's apparent desire to totally transform his attacking options, it was inevitable that Torres would find himself at the heart of particularly persistent transfer speculation this summer.

While Serie A outfit Inter Milan were mentioned as potential suitors not so long ago, it is one of Torres' former clubs - along with Ligue 1 runners-up Monaco, it would appear - that seem to be the leading candidates for his signature.

Having lost inspirational forward Diego Costa to Chelsea last month and also seen David Villa depart for the MLS, La Liga holders Atletico are clearly on the lookout for further attacking reinforcements to supplement the arrival of Croatian international Mario Mandzukic.

Torres has emerged as one of manager Diego Simeone's preferred targets, although the latest speculation suggests that negotiations between the respective clubs may be steadily reaching an impasse with Chelsea expecting to receive approximately £13 million in return for the player.

Chelsea should let him go

In my view, Chelsea should allow Torres to return to the Vicente Calderon - but only if the club are eventually willing to match their perfectly reasonable valuation.

Quite simply, it is a transfer that would appear to suit all parties concerned. Following the purchase of Costa, Chelsea - particularly if they retain the services of Romelu Lukaku and go on to secure an unlikely short-term return for fans favourite Didier Drogba - simply have no need for Torres anymore as they look to return to the summit of the Premier League.

For Atletico, such a deal would represent the return of a true Los Rojiblancos hero. Despite Torres' recent failings, he remains an immensely popular figure for most of the club's support and his signing would surely go some distance to appeasing those who may have become disgruntled by the number of recent departures of key players.

A move back to his first club would allow Torres to finally banish his Chelsea nightmare, escape from the frequent barbs aimed in his direction and start his stuttering career afresh in familiar surroundings where he is likely to receive the support and time he requires to rediscover fragments of his previously dominant form.

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Not a sign of defeat

Atletico's truly excellent - if somewhat surprising - 2013/14 season and new status as one of European football's major players means that Torres also shouldn't have to view a transfer back to the club as an admission of any sort of defeat.

Ultimately, the chances of Torres embarking upon such a homecoming is likely to rest on Atletico's financial capabilities and the striker's own willingness to take a considerable cut to his current hefty wage packet.

Should he do so, he may well reap the rewards on the pitch.

Topics:
Chelsea
Fernando Torres
Premier League
Football