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The Spain striker is out of contract at parent club AC Milan this summer and is keen to move back to the Vicente Calderon, but that will depend on the club's summer restructuring


GOALSPECIAL REPORT
He is a huge idol. Fernando Torres is one of the most emblematic players in the history of Atletico Madrid and one of the most loved by fans at the Vicente Calderon. His future, however, is up in the air.

Torres made his Atletico debut at the age of 17 and won the hearts of the club's supporters with his goals and his impressive work rate. And even though Atletico were going through a difficult time on the pitch, a star was born. El Niño was one of their own.

But the boy grew up and he ended up leaving Atleti in 2007. He went on to triumph at Liverpool under Rafa Benitez and said this week: "I reached a level I never dreamed of." Now he is back, following a difficult spell at Chelsea and another one at AC Milan. Last year, on the initiative of Diego Simeone, he returned to Atleti. His Atleti.

Simeone and Torres played together in the Argentine's second spell at the Madrid outfit. Today, they are the two biggest idols for fans of the Rojiblancos. However, it now seems clear that the striker's best years of football are in the past.



Given a hero's welcome by 45,000 Atletico fans at his unveiling in January last year, the striker scored his first goals in a derby: two strikes at the Santiago Bernabeu that knocked out the eternal rival and confirmed his status as an idol to a new generation of Colchoneros fans.

However, he netted only five more times over the remainder of the season and in the current campaign, he has just four goals in 28 games. And he had to wait more than four months for his much-anticipated 100th goal for the club, which finally arrived in early February against Eibar.

Days earlier, Simeone revealed he had spoken to the striker about his future and some media outlets claimed the relationship between player and club was reaching its end.

"I have spoken to Torres," the Argentine said in a press conference. "He knows what I think and he told me what he thinks." But he refused to reveal the details of the conversation.



FULL STORY | Torres hits 100th goal for Atletico

The matter had come to a head due to the Fifa ban handed to Atletico which prohibited the club from signing players in the summer and meant that Torres's future needed to be resolved in January (because his loan ends in June) for the forward to go on wearing the red and white shirt next season.

Days later, Jackson Martinez then left Atletico to join Guangzhou Evergrande in China. The Spanish side's big summer signing never adapted to a team that did not play for him and the side's forward line now needs rebuilding.

With the transfer ban subsequently suspended, the club should be able to sign players in the summer and the main objective will be a No.9 to lead the line for Simeone's side. The chosen one is Diego Costa. The Chelsea striker wants to return and at the Vicente Calderon they want him back. He will be Atletico's top target in July.

But what will happen with Torres? Simeone has told the player that he has to wait because his future will depend on the restructuring of the club's forward line in the summer. And Fernando is in agreement: he wants to stay at Atletico, but only on merit. He wants to be useful. The relationship will continue if Atletico and the player both agree it is in the best interests of the club. Feelings will be put to one side.







Torres is out of contract at Milan and could return to Atleti for free. He would not come as a first-choice player, but if Simeone sees the striker a part of the new strikeforce for 2016-17, he could still be back at the Calderon next season.

Top scorer Antoine Griezmann is not a traditional No.9, while Luciano Vietto and Angel Correa are both young. If Costa arrives, it will be as a replacement for Jackson and Torres could in theory continue in his role as an impact player able to come off the bench and rotate with the rest of the forwards. That is what the fans want and it is also what Torres wants.

If it does not work out, El Niño could end up in the United States and he has already spoken to his friend and former Spain team-mate David Villa about the possibility of playing in MLS. But only if he has to leave Atletico.

"I'm not interested in listenting to offers," he said last week. "My future is winning at Atletico." Because that is the only thing missing from his two spells at the Calderon and a trophy would represent a happy ending to a special story that started back in 2001 and could continue yet for some time.

 

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