Regardless of the uncharacteristic vote of confidence received from Jose Mourinho earlier this week, Fernando Torres has attracted few fans since completing his £50million switch from Liverpool to Chelsea in 2011.
Such has been the extent of his Stamford Bridge woes that his stock has slipped dramatically from a time when he was revered amongst the most lethal strikers Europe had to offer. Suggest now that he still holds the same company and you’re likely to be laughed out of the park.
Mourinho brings the unexpected
There was a validated certainty amongst most Blues fans heading into this summer’s transfer window that it would be Torres’ last at the club. The Spaniard managed a poultry five Premier League goals last term and just 11 overall, taking his overall Chelsea tally to 45 goals in 172 appearances. Say what you like about his work-rate and heightened ability to provide assists for team-mates, but his primary function is to score goals. In this respect he’s not a patch on the striker he once was.
And yet Mourinho has insisted that he is part of his plans all the same. Having shipped Demba Ba, Samuel Eto’o and the high-flying Romelu Lukaku already, the Portuguese coach now has Didier Drogba, Diego Costa and Torres at his disposal. With the former of those options being well past his peak - and surely having only been purchased with a view to boosting the morale at the club - one would assume that the other two will be afforded plenty of opportunities.
That’s right, Torres isn’t going anywhere and his game-time could increase from last season.
Yet whilst many feel that this now presents the ideal platform upon which the 30-year-old can finally rebuild his reputation, I can’t help but feel that the Spain international should be openly seeking to leave the club, not be kept on in the hope that he can reclaim the years he has lost in one scintillating campaign.
Put simply the damage has been done and the havoc upon his self-esteem wrought. Whereas Torres was once an attacking entity to be feared and respected in equal measures his legacy has been tarnished by four barren seasons at Stamford Bridge. He may have won trophies - a Champions League, a Europa Ligue and an F.A Cup - and so in that respect his time hasn’t been a complete disaster, but on a personal level things could hardly of gone any worse.
Torres' Chelsea struggles
At Atletico Madrid a young Torres managed to find the net on average about 15 times a season in La Liga alone, and at Liverpool he consistently recorded impressive figures each year.
Whether it’s because he’s not quite the same player or simply just that he doesn’t fit into the Blues’ system, El Nino seems destined to toil whilst he remains in a blue shirt, and even the possible respite the Spanish triumvirate of Francesc Fabregas and Costa could offer him doesn’t promise to cure his shortcomings.
For me there’s only one way for Torres to ensure that his legacy doesn’t continue to slide away from underneath his feet, and that’s by making a bold statement and trying his luck elsewhere.
There’s bound to be suitors attracted to the idea of taking him on, as his past exploits haven’t quite yet faded out of memory. The Inter Milans and Atleticos of this world would likely be willing to risk a few million for a striker who has the potential to be - and use this word knowing full well the backlash it could infer - world-class on his day.
Mourinho has taken the surprise step of placing his faith in Torres’ abilities to continue at Chelsea for at least another year. Ironically it’s by snubbing said assurances and seeking a fresh start somewhere new which would serve in the player’s best interests.
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