No goals in six months – Fernando Torres enduring a Japanese nightmare

Fernando Torres
The Spanish striker said he was looking for "a new challenge" after leaving Atletico Madrid but he is finding the J-League far tougher than expected

Going from La Liga to the J-League, Fernando Torres was expected to score freely for Japanese club Sagan Tosu.

But rather than ignite the struggling club when he arrived in July 2018, the Spaniard has only added to their woes in the final third. 

Torres has failed to find the back of the net all season, drawing a blank in all 12 of his appearances to date, with his last goal coming in November last year.

With their marquee man misfiring up front, Sagan sit second last in the J-League and have scored the fewest goals, with just six across their first 14 games. 

After narrowly avoiding relegation last year, the club brought in Spanish manager Lluis Carreras with an eye on getting more out of Torres.

Carreras' predecessor, Massimo Ficcadenti, had found himself out of the job late last year, with his reluctance to use the former Atletico Madrid striker just one of many reported reasons behind the club's decision to show the Italian the door. 

Torres hasn't found his shooting boots under Carreras, however, and has quickly gone from club captain to bench-warmer. 

Having started the season with the armband, the 35-year-old picked up a minor injury in March and has struggled to get a foothold in Sagan's side since.

With Carreras preferring to play more versatile, defence-minded forwards in recent weeks, Torres has found himself stuck on the sidelines as his Japanese adventure enters a limbo of sorts. 

Fernando Torres Japan PS

There was speculation last month that the Spaniard was on the cusp of signing for Mexican side Atletico de San Luis in the summer – a possibility that has since been ruled out .

However, with his contract expiring early next year, Sagan could well be open to letting Torres depart early, with the striker himself no doubt desperate to play regularly as his career winds to a close.

The former Chelsea forward is no stranger to the occasional dry spell and it's safe to say he has fallen well short of expectations set by himself when he signed on with Tosu. 

"With my play, I want to help raise the level of football in Japan," Torres said at his unveiling. 

"My goal is to make Sagan Tosu a major club. The sensation that I can return the club to where they should be is another reason why – I see how much confidence they have in me.

"I have had offers from France, Germany and even one from Spain but at no point did I ever think about going to another European team.

"I wanted a new challenge in a completely different place. Asia has always treated me very well."

Japan hasn't, however, made life on the pitch particularly easy for Torres to date, with the J-League's well-organised defences proving a hard nut for him to crack. 

Incidentally, while one Spaniard struggles in Japan, another has shone.

Fernando Torres Japan PS

Despite being two years older than Torres, David Villa has hit the ground running in the J-League, scoring six goals from his first 12 appearances for Vissel Kobe after arriving from MLS side New York City FC.

The former Barcelona man is admittedly helped by the presence of Andres Iniesta and Lukas Podolski in his new side, with Torres the only high-profile name in Sagan's squad. 

While Tosu's fans have shown some patience with their star man, he must start proving his worth soon as the club once again braces itself for a relegation battle. 

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For Torres, Sagan's situation, let alone location, is a long way from the heights of European success he enjoyed in both England and Spain. 

"When I decided to leave Atletico, I was looking for a new challenge, so I found a new challenge in Sagan Tosu," Torres said earlier this year. 

"I have never before fought to stay in a competition; normally, I play for teams playing for trophies.

"It's a new experience for me and it was very stressful sometimes. I have more experience than before and I think I am a more complete player than before I came to Japan."

Though certainly a new experience for the striker. Torres simply must start scoring again soon to ensure his time in Japan doesn't end in disaster.