Bad news for those Chelsea fans who can no longer stand the sight of Fernando Torres in a Chelsea shirt – he’s made it clear that he is happy to stay at Stamford Bridge for the foreseeable future, even if it means playing second fiddle to new boy Diego Costa.
The misfiring Spanish striker (Torres, that is, not Costa) has two years left on his contract and is in no hurry to take the sort of pay cut that a move away from Chelsea would entail. This is despite reports which suggest that Jose Mourinho has made it clear to him that his future lays away from West London.
It does appear that the club have finally run out of patience with Torres. Despite a couple of goals worth their weight in gold – the epic one in the Nou Camp to guarantee our place in the Champions League final, for example – he has never looked even close to becoming the striker Chelsea thought it had bought.
There have been suggestions that he was offered to Atletico Madrid as part of the negotiations over Costa and Filipe Luis. However, it seems that his old club was keener on the cash than in taking back Torres – even though that would be a hugely popular move with Atletico fans. The Spanish club, it seems, would prefer to continue their current policy of finding quality young strikers at knockdown prices and selling them off at a vast profit.
There were also reports of a move to Napoli and a reunion with former mentor Rafa Benitez. But Benitez must have seen enough of Torres’ form in his (mercifully) brief period in charge at Stamford Bridge to know that the striker is no longer worth the sort of salary he would be likely to insist on.
And there doesn’t appear to be even a hint of any interest from any of the clubs who might be able to pay something akin to Torres’ £200,000 weekly wages – even from those such as Arsenal who need a striker badly and have been linked to the player in the past.
And therein lays Torres’ – and Chelsea’s – problem. He’s damaged goods, blighted by three years at Stamford Bridge which has savaged his reputation. No club that can afford him is willing to take a chance on him. And no club that might be willing to take a risk on him can afford him.
This is terribly unfair on Torres, who remains one of the most skilful players in the club. However, he has to accept something. Because his talent for scoring goals has noticeably and undeniably declined, his value as a central striker has fallen irretrievably.
He might well be better advised to re-engineer himself as a secondary striker in the style of, say, PSG’s Ezequiel Lavezzi – playing off the main man and providing assists, rather than being relied upon as the main source of goals. He has the talent and the skills for it and already spends much of his playing time moving away from the penalty area and towards the flanks. If he could do this successfully, he might well prove a useful asset to his present club, which would render any move away unnecessary – at least until his contract runs down.
Chelsea may well prefer to get some cash in return for what they see as a declining asset – cash which could help fillip the club’s reconstruction project and if so, they may find that they have to accept an unpalatable fact too – that they will end up funding a part of Torres’ wages for some time to come. Selling Torres may not make quite the financial sense it would at first appear to do.