After not looking likely to recapture his Liverpool form, the Spanish striker's time in west London could be drawing to a close after the Blues move for the Atletico Madrid starCOMMENT
By Greg Stobart
When Fernando Torres was asked earlier in October about Radamel Falcao’s future at Atletico Madrid, the Spaniard suggested that a player should not be held back once he becomes bigger than the club.
He had a point, and Falcao is likely to become a team-mate of Torres at Chelsea in January as the Blues prepare a €60 million move for the in-form Colombian striker.
But, by the same token, what if a player is no longer good enough for his team?
The mere fact that Chelsea are moving for Falcao having spent more than €88m in the summer shows how much manager Roberto Di Matteo wants a leading striker as the Londoners look to win the Premier League title and retain their Champions League crown.
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While Falcao’s arrival would not prompt Torres’ immediate departure from Stamford Bridge, it would force the former Liverpool man to once again accept a role as second fiddle, back-up to the first-choice striker.
Didier Drogba’s summer departure was supposed to allow Torres to finally flourish after a miserable start to his Chelsea career following his €62m move to Stamford Bridge in 2011.
There has been improvement - Torres has scored four goals in eight Premier League appearances so far this season - but supporters have given up hoping that the 28-year-old will ever reproduce the form he showed at Liverpool.
Torres’ role this season has largely been as a selfless facilitator, linking up play for the likes of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar to shine.
Yet he still lacks confidence and sharpness in front of goal - and Di Matteo is well aware of the lethal potential of combining the Blues’ attacking triumvirate with a lethal finisher like Falcao.
Torres’ arrival at Chelsea was seen at the time as a vanity signing by owner Roman Abramovich and, as he did with Andriy Shevchenko, the Russian billionaire finally appears to be ready to accept his mistake.
It has hard to believe just how much Torres’ star has fallen since he left Liverpool, where he scored 65 league goals in 102 appearances and was regarded as one of the best strikers in Europe with his searing pace and deadly finishing.
Sulky and sultry for much of his Chelsea career, Torres simply has not looked like he enjoys playing anymore. Maybe he could do with a fresh start himself, perhaps a return to Atletico Madrid.
For Falcao’s arrival from the Spanish capital will complete the most fearsome attack in English football but will once again relegate Torres to the substitutes’ bench. It is not a role he will accept, having even found time to criticise the team’s tactics after Chelsea’s historic Champions League triumph in May.
Many in Spain believe Torres has played too much football in a career having played continually since making his professional debut for Atletico Madrid at the age of 17.
Whether it’s in his mind or his legs, it is now clear that Torres’ best days will remain in the past. That’s why Abramovich and Di Matteo will do everything in their power to sign Falcao in the New Year.