FERNANDO TORRES has now been a Chelsea player for a little over a year, and in 48 appearances he has scored just five goals. Prior to his £50million move from Liverpool his form was such that many Reds supporters were happy for the club to cash in, and his poor run of form has now lasted for around two years. He’s even been dropped from the Spain squad for the friendly against Venezuela, and aside from Gervinho’s head, this is the most baffling situation in football today.
Although Torres is clearly shorn of confidence and, seemingly, enthusiasm, the most galling thing is that he just looks so sad, as if he slinks off home after training to sit in his room and listen to The Smiths while writing poetry by candlelight.
There are many theories on why this has happened and I have a few myself. The first is simple: he’s dead. He looks like a sad ghost, he disappears a lot and often can’t connect with the ball properly as he’s not fully of this realm.
Another possibility is that the real Torres is injured and that this guy is an actor, playing him in a forthcoming movie and standing in to research the part. While the resemblance is striking – apart from the hair, they can’t get the colour quite right – the role has been miscast. Both Chelsea and the producers would have been better off going with an actor like Christian Bale, someone method. The man known as Patrick Batman (to me at least) would get so into character that he’d score a ton of goals and everyone would be happy.
His status has slipped so dramatically that a move to one of Spain’s big two seems unlikely, though Real Madrid may be tempted to sign him so they can play him solely against Atlético.
I just don’t know – nobody does – so inexplicable is Torres’ chronic averageness, but what can be done to get him out of this melancholy lull? It seems that he’ll never be the player he was at Liverpool while at Chelsea, and not just for semantic reasons.
The beleaguered André Villas-Boas recently said that he won’t change Chelsea’s style to accommodate Sad Nando, but with the Portuguese manager’s tenure under threat, this also puts Torres’ future in limbo. Will a new man come in and get more out of him? If that doesn’t happen, will Roman Abramovich cut his losses and decide that his team can’t afford to waste any more time trying to make this failing relationship work, that they’d both be better off seeing other people?
Where would he go? Inter traditionally have more money than sense so can’t be counted out, and Paris Saint-Germain also fit the bill, especially as Javier Pastore would be there to provide him with ammunition, but would Carlo Ancelotti be willing to gamble on Torres again?
His status has slipped so dramatically that a move to one of Spain’s big two seems unlikely, though Real Madrid may be tempted to sign him so they can play him solely against Atlético, dangling their former idol in front of them as a gloating expression of their toxic affluence. Málaga could afford him, and being a big, depressed fish in a small, rich pond may help his rehabilitation, but it’s a huge step down. There are obstacles at every turn. No wonder he’s sad.
His exclusion from the Spain squad is the clearest indication yet that, at 27, his career is in terminal decline. So far people have made excuses for him because he’s so well regarded, but the buck has to stop with Torres himself. He needs to take a look at himself and use his international blackball as motivation to work much harder or seriously consider making a fresh start away from England. It hasn’t been working for a long time, and with Chelsea facing their own troubles the choice may soon be out of his hands.
Read and listen to more of Jim Campbell’s opinions on The Football Ramble podcast and website.
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