Fernando Torres has had such a rough start to his Chelsea career that the Financial Times ran a piece in February titled ‘The tragedy of Fernando Torres’. Torres’ spectacular failure transcended football and became common knowledge. Simply put, the man was a laughing stock, with no light at the end of the tunnel.
Fast forward to the beginning of April and even those looking might agree that things are be looking up for El Nino. Two goals against Leicester in the FA Cup, followed by his first Premier League goal since September saw a turnaround in Torres’ form at the end of March. Chelsea’s new caretaker manager, Roberto Di Matteo, will be hoping that his Spanish forward – the most expensive footballer in English football – can build on this start and end the season strongly.
Three years ago Torres was talked of as the best striker in the world. Between 2007 and 2010 he scored 72 goals in 116 games for Liverpool, leading their line with maximum effect. Knee surgery in April 2010 must be taken into account for his loss of form. In fact his career may come to be defined as before and after this operation.
A solid performance this week against Benfica in the Champions League quarter final victory silenced a few more critics. It would appear that Di Matteo has been able to get Torres firing again. Granted he does not possess the touch and the finish he once showed week-in, week-out, but Torres playing at 75% capacity is still better than most strikers in the league.
A striker who goes half a year without scoring a league goal is bound to attract attention. When said striker costs £50 million and performed brilliantly for the last eight years, that tends to ramp up the heat.
If Torres can recover from his drought and start leading the line for Chelsea, all will be forgotten. If he cannot build on the past few weeks’ improvements then Roman Abramovich will surely have to look elsewhere for a striker.