One of the biggest reminders that the new football season is close is the shocking two-yard, open-goal miss by Fernando Torres on the weekend during Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Olimpija Ljubljana
But that miss – a Torres special, as some might call it – isn’t the biggest worry for the Spaniard at Stamford Bridge. The former Atletico Madrid forward ushered in those mightiest of blunders with his first high-profile miss against Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2011. But we’re used to that from the 30-year-old now.
Instead, he should be concerned by Chelsea’s re-signing of Didier Drogba last week. What a way to undermine your record signing. Torres didn’t really need to be reminded that he’s in a slump that he may never fully recover from while at Chelsea, but bringing in a 36-year-old Drogba, whatever his standing this time round may be, is an incredible indicator of the club’s lack of faith in the Spaniard.
Forget Romelu Lukaku for a moment. The Belgian international should have a career at Chelsea, but he’s young, he’s had two very good seasons in the Premier League, and he won’t struggle for suitors. He very much has his career ahead of him.
Torres, meanwhile, remains entrenched in the difficulties of life in west London. It’s a struggle to shift him because of his wages, and the club won’t place enough faith in him for that £50m fee to ever look like a half decent investment. On top of that, there simply isn’t time in the forward’s career for such a dramatic turnaround in performances.
But it says a lot that Jose Mourinho would rather look to a 36-year-old who more or less retired from the European big leagues by way of a short stint in China and a competitive though far less challenging move back to Europe with Galatasaray.
Demba Ba is out the door and Lukaku will surely follow. But Torres has been left with little to no purpose at Chelsea after Drogba and Diego Costa’s arrivals.
Atletico Madrid fans made themselves known ahead of the unveiling of Mario Mandzukic at the Vicente Calderon, not so much taking away from the Croatian’s arrival from Bayern Munich (he was warmly welcomed), but instead to display their undying affection towards Torres, who, at this point in his career, can only really call the Calderon his true football home.
A move back to Atletico makes the most sense but may not be financially feasible. The club have just confirmed the signing of Antoine Griezmann from Real Sociedad, who wouldn’t budge on the player’s €30m buyout clause. In addition to the French international, the Spanish champions also parted with €22 million to land Mandzukic.
So what now for Torres? Well anywhere but Chelsea seems to be the best option. Monaco are said to be interested, but how long owner Dmitry Rybolovlev’s interest in his project with the club holds is anyone’s guess. Perhaps Italy, where the intensity isn’t as great as what it can be in the Premier League. The question is whether there are clubs that can either afford the price of the transfer or the price of the gamble on someone like Torres.
Even if he stays on at Stamford Bridge, there is little hope of a sustained run in the team next season. What we saw from Torres last term was promising. He was frustrated in his search for consistency through either injury or suspension, but there were flashes of brilliance; maybe not the Torres of old, but a good forward regardless.
He won’t get those opportunities again. There’s far too much invested in Costa, and there is no confusion about Mourinho’s feelings towards Torres.
The logical thing to do would be for both Chelsea and Torres to take a hit on their demands for a fee and wages. The ship has long since sailed for Torres to be considered a good or even useful player at Chelsea.
The return of the striker who played a part in compromising Torres’ adjustment to life in west London after his move from Liverpool in 2011 should be the act that finally convinces Torres that he and Chelsea have no future together.