El Niño they called him at Athletico Madrid and Liverpool. The kid it is loosely translated to. For sure he was worthy of the title. Fernando Torres was Athletico’s captain and leader, all at the tender age of 19.
‘The Kid’ caught the eye of future suitors but in the summer of 2007, Liverpool and the Premier League came calling. El Niño left Athletico Madrid with 87 goals from 214 appearances and this huge feat at the age of only 23. The £20 million transfer looked like it didn’t have a burden on Torres as in his first Premier League start against Chelsea he netted Liverpool’s only goal in the 1-1 draw. Everything about him in that game was excellent: his first touch, his turn, his movement and of course his finishing. In his first season at Liverpool, Torres found the net 24 times in the Premier League, setting a new record for being the most prolific foreign goal-scorer in their debut season. There was also, controversially, speculation Chelsea were ready to put in a £50 million bid, until Torres himself denied a move would happen for years to come. Off he went to the European Championship, only to score a delightful finish for the only goal of the final against Germany to win Spain the competition.
Season after season at Liverpool his combination play with Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano was frightening defences across England and Europe. Only in the season of 2008-09 did the pieces start falling for Liverpool. The attacking instinct of Steven Gerrard and the precision and accuracy shown by Alonso and Mascherano, found Torres’ excellent runs. Them three in behind Torres cut the defence apart for Torres to slay dead. They came within touching distance of breaking their maiden and winning the Premier League. The summer of 2009 was not a good one for Liverpool, as Tom Hicks and George Gillet started to ruin the club completely; to put it mildly. They sold Alonso and Mascherano to Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. For Torres and Liverpool it was the start of a very slippery slope. They were knocked out the Champions League group stages and only made the semi finals of the UEFA Cup (previously known) and finished dismally in 7th place in the Premier League in the 2009-10 season. However, in the midst of all this Torres had signed a contract extension at the beginning of the season and Torres did have a decent season scoring 22 goals in 32 appearances in all competition. However, riddled with injury and surgery had taken it’s toll and the old Fernando Torres was gone.
The FIFA World Cup arrived in South Africa and Torres was included in the squad. When Torres took to the field he looked lethargic and slow, that yard of pace he had disappeared. He received much criticism but he did just come straight from surgery. Torres will be back to his best in no time, everyone would say but when the 2010-11 season took the stage, Torres didnt. He only went to score 9 goals in 26 appearances until Chelsea came calling.
Fernando Torres was now a blue boy and the Liverpool fans were furious! Burning placards of him and Torres shirts; they were furious, how he could betray them like that. The British press were right in saying that the £50 million transfer, a British transfer record, was the right move for Torres. He signed a six and a half year deal and had become the sixth most expensive transfer worldwide. He had only seen silverware with Spain winning the European Championship and the World Cup but none in domestic football. Chelsea fans, however, were thrilled with the man they once abhorred was part of their excellent team. One problem. Chelsea still had Didier Drogba and he wasn’t to be knocked off his perch by the ‘pretty little Spanish boy’ (reference to what Chelsea fans used to call him). Drogba was still too important for Chelsea and for their season only to sacrifice in the hands of out of form Fernando Torres.
Fernando Torres made his Chelsea debut against his old club nonetheless. In his debut it was battle of the fans with each fan-base taunting the other regarding Torres. Torres himself couldn’t get in the game with his old teammates tackling him that extra bit harder. Games rolled by without no goal for Torres, Chelsea fans sang his name in support. Minutes turned into hours and Torres was still without a Chelsea goal. It was a calm Saturday evening in West London, when it suddenly started to pour with rain, Chelsea were at home to West Ham United and winning. A ball is put through to Torres and it seems to hold up on the waterlogged Stamford Bridge pitch for Torres to swivel and finish for his first Chelsea goal, only 903 minutes late. That was his only goal for that season.
2011-12 season came round and as usual at Chelsea, change in manager. In comes young, fresh and attacking-minded Andre Villas Boas. He got the chop after 6 months and even then Torres wasn’t scoring. But what Torres did do was put Chelsea in the Champions League final, with a last minute winner at the Nou Camp against Barcelona. That season he finished with a Champions League and FA Cup winners medal along with another European Championship winners medal. On top of that he won Golden Boot at the European Championship albeit assists and minutes played playing a hand. A new lease of confidence must of been brewing inside of Torres, with Drogba now bowing heroically out of Chelsea, he was their main man. For many it seemed as if Torres was back to his best with an excellent finish in the 3-1 loss against Manchester City in the Community Shield. He looked very sharp, fast and his first touch was good. What was even better was his link-up play with Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar. However, the same story rolled with Torres, his work-rate was gone and didn’t look like he wanted to play. He has now, including tonight’s win at Leeds, 12 goals this season in all competitions. This is not Torres getting back to his best but Torres being the lurking striker he never was.
|Torrid time for Torres at Chelsea.|
Torres used to be so heavily involved at Liverpool with his give and go but his goal tonight at Leeds has summed it all up for him and his time at Chelsea. He wasn’t involved in the game whatsoever. His first touch was somewhat amateur, running into cul de sacs with three defenders surrounding him and not having that yard of space. Okay, some will say he did get a goal and a striker’s job is to score goals. No. Look at Robin Van Persie at Manchester United. He scores and helps the team out by assisting a few as well as having an excellent chemistry with Wayne Rooney. Abramovic bringing in Rafa Benitez reeks of desperation. His sole purpose is to bring out the kid in El Niño, not to save their season otherwise he would of suck with Robbie Di Matteo. Chelsea’s play will not suit Torres, not now, not ever. Roman can bring in as many fancy Spaniards and Brazilians he likes but the style at which Torres thrives off will not played at Chelsea, simply down to it being embodied into Chelsea. To think Chelsea could of bought in Torres at the young age of 19 for a smaller fee than for £50 million for a lethargic older Torres.
The fans, along with me, have supported Torres but patience is starting to get weary even with the most optimistic Chelsea fan. Harsh considering his recent run of form of 5 goals in 5 games? Maybe a little bit but these goals have come against minor teams. Hands-on-the-hip, looking glummer than the British weather and tumbling Torres was not what Abramovic paid £50 million for. However, the harsh criticism does not mean that he hasn’t tried his absolute hardest with his work-rate, on many occasions, being excellent. Some injuries define players and part of me thinks that knee injury he incurred at Liverpool has slumped him to his knees.
For Chelsea’s future number nine may be sitting in Torres’ previous number 9 shirt in Madrid. But a big money move for Chelsea isn’t worth the hassle and Abramovic may have learnt. For their answer to their troubles is young Romelu Lukaku, considering Abramovic did splash £18 million for the boy. Built like Drogba, plays like Drogba and is still only 19. He would thrive at Chelsea given the chance, from the showing at his loan spell in the Midlands at WBA. What we do know is that if Torres does not adapt then he will need to leave. Falcao or Lukaku will have to fill the big boots left by Didier Drogba, for El Niño has failed.
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