Fernando Torres is back. The heaps of insults and criticism of the Spanish striker have been consistent for some time, and have not gone unheard by the player.
When at Liverpool, Torres's top season saw 31 balls strike the back of the net back in the 2007-2008 campaign. Torres was a star, the best player at Liverpool and one of the top forwards in the world.
After scoring nine goals for Liverpool during the first half of the 2010 Premier League season, Torres was transferred to Chelsea for a British record deal of £50 million during the January transfer window. Since then, Torres has accounted for 39 goals, adding two against Schalke 04 in Tuesday's Champions League group-stage match.
Because it's been almost three years since the record deal, skeptics have been the proverbial monkey on his back every single day, and are only growing. His domestic form remains questionable but, what rarely gets looked at, is his form in Europe.
I mentioned that he has scored 39 total goals in all competitions for Chelsea, but 24 of them have been outside of the EPL. How can you get mad at a player who still helps his team to big victories? Since he's been with Chelsea, his team has won the Champions League (2011), the Europa League (2012).
That's not to mention the Spain national team, for whom he won the Golden Boot award during the Euro 2012 Championship, along with leading Spain to a victory over Italy in the final. All he does is win.
Torres' goalscoring record may not be great in the EPL, but he still contributes to the Blues. When you watch Chelsea, especially under new coach Jose Mourinho and even last season under his former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, you see an offensive side that passes often.
Even with his improved performance as of late, don't think for a second that Torres is content with not putting up the same numbers as he did at Liverpool. At a recent press conference he revealed it's on his mind and that his scoring is not good enough.
"The people are looking at me thinking I should do much better and it's true," said Torres in a recent interview with Chelsea TV. "The reason you pay that money for someone is that he has shown in the past he is worth that."
It's good to see that Torres is admitting that he's as prolific as he once was, but his assist numbers have been career topping since he came to Chelsea. The striker had 12 assists during the 2011/2012 season, and eight during the 2012/2013 campaign. His top-assist season at Liverpool was seven in 2007/2008, one less than his least amount in a full season in London.
Even though Torres is contributing more assists he ever has, you still can't take only those stats and say he has improved his game. You have to watch Torres play for the Blues.
Watching Torres now is so much more enjoyable now that he has become more comfortable with Chelsea and the players around him. Chelsea's movement and heightened passing way of play has been positive for Torres' game and, in effect, everyone around him.
The only negative I could say about Torres right now is that he passes almost too much. There are definitely worse things you could be doing than passing the ball. A lot of Torres' passes aren't assists but they get the ball to players in positions to make plays for their teammates.
If Torres keeps playing this well and keeps getting his teammates involved, Chelsea will stay in contention to win both the Premier League and Champions League this season.
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