One bad season with an expensive price tag over your head can be disastrous for a footballer’s career, beginning a slippery slope towards being forgotten. Fernando Torres had more than one bad campaign with a £50 million label over his head, but it seems the Spanish striker is on the right path.
Is this the same Torres from 2007-2009? Nope. A few years older, a few more injuries on his fragile legs, but mostly, it’s what’s inside his head; all the thoughts and words, from himself and from others, running inside, limiting him, keeping him from making full use of his talent.
He still has speed, he still has power. It’s something about the over-thinking part that was never part of his game that he just can’t seem to shake off, although a decent Euro tournament, scoring three goals, and a good start to the season with Chelsea, scoring two goals in the first three league matches for the club this season. Maybe it has to do more with the form of Eden Hazard and Juan Mata, but maybe it’s Torres finding his old scoring form once again.
I learned so much about myself last season and feel better for that experience now. I’m playing much more for my club and you can see that I’m starting to score more goals and play better. I am a different type of striker than in the past. I created a lot of chances for my team-mates last season and it means my game is more complete at this point in my career. To play in a new Chelsea team and still have something to aim for with Spain is exciting for me.
It was last season, and probably the first three months of his Chelsea career as well that can undoubtedly go and get labeled as the lowest mark of his career. In and out of the lineup with AVB and Di Matteo, deployed at different positions, with different partners or alone, anything to shake him out of that funk. In his first 46 league matches for the club, Torres scored 7 goals. Suddenly, even an FA Cup brace against a lower league team was something to hold on to. Half an assist in the Champions League suddenly got praises from everyone, while his numbers for Liverpool were 81 goals in 142 matches.
So what changed? Belief, and understanding that there’s confidence in him. After playing a minor part in Chelsea’s Champions League title, Torres went into Abramovich’s office and was promised the role of the leading striker next season. Torres believed in himself again, and others, some, weren’t willing to give up on him. The Euro itself was an up & down roller coaster, with Del Bosque preferring to play without a true striker, but Torres made the most of his time on the pitch.
This season, he seems to be enjoying the new system, although Chelsea are a flawed side, with a lot of problems in the midfield. Upfront is a different matter – Torres has two players behind him to supply him with chances, and actually help him look like a formidable striker once again. At 28, maybe Fernando Torres seems to have re-found the passion for the game once again, the confidence in his game once again, and more importantly, the ability to prove he might be worth the money Chelsea spent on him.