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The Blues forward is unsurprised by the rumour mill kicking into gear and linking the club with "big players" but is happy with his own improvement and hopes to stay long-term

EXCLUSIVE
By Alex Labidou

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres is confident that he is ready for the challenge of next season despite the likelihood of "big players" giving him competition for a striking berth.

The Spaniard scored 23 goals for the Blues across all competitions in 2012-13 but, after the arrival of Demba Ba in January, only netted once in the Premier League, on the last day of the season.

Asked if the possibility of the club recruiting more strikers concerns him, however, Torres told Goal: "No. It's Chelsea. Obviously, big players are linked with the club. It's normal, especially in this period of the year with the summer. The places and names of players that every year [are linked] - we'll see what happens."

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Radamel Falcao was close to sealing a move to Chelsea before Monaco stole a march to take pole position for his signature, while Napoli's Edinson Cavani and Aston Villa youngster Christian Benteke have also been linked with Chelsea.

Torres, though hopes that he and his team-mates can continue the improved form that they showed toward the end of the season, with the former Liverpool man pleased with his personal contribution as well.

"There's no doubt about it [that I showed improvement towards the end of the season]," he remarked. "When the team improves and wins trophies, everyone individually improves. That's the case with this team, not just me. Many of the other players at the end of the season reached a very good level so that's building towards next season.

"As always, you need new players and a new challenge. Keep on playing together. Training and training together as much as we can. The team is going to improve; we have enough talent individually to win games."

Torres is adamant, meanwhile, that he is happy at Chelsea despite rumours linking him with a departure from London, some suggesting that he could join Rafa Benitez if the manager moves to Napoli.

"I signed a five-and-half-year contract, so hopefully I'll stay at Chelsea for at least five-and-half years," the striker told reporters. "Maybe more, who knows."

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