The new Premier League season is almost here, and we haven’t been hearing anything about Fernando Torres for weeks, which is quite strange. From a player everyone were quite confident will be sold at some point, it seems like it’s going to be another season of disappointing and speculation of whether or not he can get his mojo back.
The funny thing? In seven months Torres will be turning 30, and maybe when that happens, people will realize that scoring in a pace of a goal every two matches just isn’t going to happen for him at this level. There will be isolated incidents of impressive matches when everything comes together again, but in general, it will be quite surprising to see Torres doing a lot better than he has during his first few seasons with Chelsea.
Not that it’s hard to beat 15 goals in 82 league matches, but Jose Mourinho loses faith in players who don’t deliver very quickly, and there has been no indication during the Confederations Cup or at the end of last season that Torres has figured out how to make up for the speed and quickness that he’s lost with a more clever way of going around the field and find his goals in a different way.
There’s also the confidence issue, which has always been a tricky thing for Torres. One goal and he feels like one of the best in the world again, a club he belonged to for about three seasons during his early Liverpool days. But two, three matches without scoring easily turn into 10 for Torres, who has seen several long droughts haunt him during his Chelsea career.
Even during the impressive beginning of last season, Torres seemed to fade away quickly. He had a strong start, apparently buoyed by the arrival of Eden Hazard and linking up quite well with the Belgian player, but that didn’t last very long. Torres can go entire matches, 90 minutes, without even getting a shot at goal. Those are the days when his eyes never leave the grass, and his dribbling always seems to find a way into a wall of two and three well prepared players.
Last season there was only Demba Ba to fight with Torres for the starting lineup spot, and that was only for half a season. This year? Chelsea might still bring in a striker to push both of them down the rotational ladder, but let’s not forget Romelu Lukaku, who scored more goals last season than Torres has in his entire career (Premier League matches only) for Chelsea. Two players going in completely different directions, and Torres looks like the potential loser in that contest.
A lot, obviously, depends on how well Chelsea combine their immensly talented bunch of attacking midfielders and forwards. Andre Schurrle has been quite impressive in preseason so far, while Eden Hazard may find consistency a lot easier to come by this season, and that’s before we even mention Juan Mata and Oscar. Mourinho’s going to need to do a lot of juggling to keep everyone happy.
There are less grandiose expectations of Torres. Chelsea would have loved to sell him, but no one is going to pick up his salary or pay Chelsea the £15 million (or something along those lines) they expected to get for him. It just means it’ll be another season of hoping the general depression that has surrounded the Spanish striker at Stamford Bridge is lifted. They don’t expect 20 goals from him (maybe he won’t even play 20 matches under Mourinho), but maybe it’ll be a season when the weights of being an expensive failure don’t bother him as much as they did in the past.