He once was the most feared striker on the planet. A former goalkeeper, he made his mark as a striker at boyhood club Atletico Madrid, playing a part in the promotion of the team to La Liga. In his second season, at a tender age of 18, he was the 3rd highest goal scorer in the league, netting 19 times in 35 appearances.
He also attracted attention from top European sides in particular Chelsea who were ready to spend £28 million on the starlet. That just shows what a phenomenon he truly was. His move to Liverpool proved to be one of the best if not the best decision he has made in his career. He broke records in his debut season and became the fastest Liverpool player to score 50 goals in the clubs history.
He was the undisputed king of the pitch. His international form was just as good, scoring that crucial goal against a highly fancied Germany side in the Euro 2008 final. The rest is indescribable. The rest is history.
And boy (pardon the pun) so much has changed since his 50 million dollar move to Chelsea.
Described by many as ‘a world-class striker’ who is ‘quick, strong, impressive in the air, blessed with expert technique and is cool and collected in front of goal’, nowadays is this statement even viable?
His career at Chelsea got off to a decent start. Having just recovered from injury, he looked sharp, linked up well with the team and even though he failed to find the back of the net, he made intelligent runs into space to receive the ball, signs of gradual improvement and his decent displays should’ve been a confidence booster.
However his failure to find the net put him under the spot light. His performances for Chelsea were constantly juxtaposed with those at Merseyside. He came under constant media scrutiny, every action made was criticised. This is exactly not what he had wanted and it proved to be detrimental. In fact he became a laughing stock in the football world and his open goal miss against Manchester United summed up his confidence levels.
To put it simply, he was a shadow of his former self. He could no longer score whenever he wanted to and no longer looked comfortable with the ball.
His odd standout performances gained a lot of media attention. Who could forget his goal against Barcelona in the Champions League? The goal that meant Chelsea fans for only the second time could buy their Champions League final tickets. But that was it, his fall from grace was spectacular, his career looked over.
However, there was more to come. With David Villa out due to a leg injury suffered in the Club World Cup, Del Bosque had no choice but to call up Torres to his Spanish squad for Euro 2012. Del Bosque kept faith, and his faith was repaid. He scored at crucial times, assisted with goals, and became the first ever player to score in consecutive Euro finals. And many saw it as some kind of renaissance he was undertaking, pleasing the Spanish fans who had forked out hundreds for international football tickets.
He carried his form into the beginning of the season, at one stage scoring 4 goals in 4 appearances. Now as it stands, he has added 19 goals to his name this season, three more than Wayne Rooney, and four goals less than Robin van Persie.
This campaign, Torres has impressed in fits. However many still believe he is not at his best. Why? Well he has only scored 7 goals in the Premier League this season, and most of them have been scored against weaker opposition.
But that does not necessarily matter. He has popped up and scored for Chelsea when they needed him most, mainly on the European stage, against teams such as Shakhtar Donetsk and Rubin Kazan.
It looks as though he is finally starting to get into the groove of scoring regularly again. And this will be a cause for much joy back home in Spain.
Not only that, but his confidence has seemingly returned. Thanks in large to the arrival of Benitez at Chelsea. It has definitely been a catalyst for Torres. The man who helped him peak at Liverpool has again helped Torres to get back into form.
The other night against Rubin Kazan, he showed why he still has it in him to get back to his best. His match winning performance maybe the start of a spectacular renaissance.
What was pleasing that night was not the number of goals he put past the opposing goalkeeper, but the manner with which he scored. He was brave and consistently tried his luck, and the build-up play leading to his goals were excellent. And even though Benitez failed to guide his side to Premier League glory, the renaissance of Torres should be a positive.
Like many other strikers, he is a confidence player. He now has regained his confidence and it is time for him to show what he’s got in his locker in the Premier League. Lack of consistency in playing time is no longer an excuse, tactically, he now plays in his preferred central striking role and the arrival of Demba Ba has taken the burden off his back. He has no excuse to not perform now. He showed he still has what it takes to compete with the elite; his confidence should allow him to prove his doubter wrong.
I’m no superstitious fellow, but if you ask me, maybe the mask that he wears has in fact helped him and he should continue wearing it!
For now talk of his demise is premature. He is after all an intelligent man with a great work ethic. That surely is enough to get him over the line. His compatriot Raul underwent a renaissance in his 30’s. The stage is set, its now time for Torres to complete his own part. Success awaits him at the end of this long tunnel.