Was everyone wrong? Is Fernando Torres not just going to stay at Chelsea, but actually deserving to stay at the club? After two goals in the span of five days that are of the most important for the team all season long, the usually disappointing Spanish striker has helped his cause to earn a spot on the team for another season, showing he deserves to play next to Juan Mata and Eden Hazard in the future.
Chelsea started with something we haven’t seen from them all season – two strikers right off the bat, something that lasted for about an hour before Demba Ba was taken off. He hasn’t played regularly, as the Europa League matches ruined his streak in the lineup, but it’s hard to ignore that the man that did so well for Newcastle was a lot less influential on a bigger stage, scoring only two Premier League goals while spending most of his ammunition on the FA Cup.
A little bit of touch of the future was also part of Chelsea’s final match – Nathan Ake, the Dutchman who keeps reminding everyone of Ruud Gullit got a chance to start in the lineup, playing next to Oscar and Juan Mata. It didn’t mean an impressive display from Chelsea, who looked quite confident and relaxed even when Everton equalized and Arsenal suddenly had a chance to make a last minute change in the Premier League standings, but the goal eventually came for Torres.
Everyone seems to know the answer for Torres’ troubles – confidence. He’s never been someone who doesn’t work hard on the pitch, asked to chase defenders and clear space in the middle by moving to the wings. In a team with such a talented trio of attacking midfielders, the role of the striker is a little bit different, and while Torres could have done much better than go on a scoring drought (in the league) that lasted for nearly five months, his value has been greater than the 8 goals he scored this season.
And yet, it’s quite conundrum keeping him on board. The future of Chelsea is where the talent is, which is behind the striker – with Mata, the player of the season, who added another goal to his tally early on to cap off a fantastic second-year campaign for him, establishing himself as the best Spanish player in the Premier League. It’s with Eden Hazard, who didn’t play in the final matches of the season, but had a successful, most of the time, debut season in England. It’s with Oscar as well, who needed a while to get used to the physical demands on the other side of the Atlantic, but has much fewer doubters talking about him than before.
Among all that talent, there are other issues to be fixed, upgraded and changed, especially in the middle of the pitch. Torres? Chelsea can afford to keep him, even if he’s no longer a starting option. What they can’t afford is having a striker who doesn’t score for about half a season, even if all the other work he does is quite valuable. Torres finishes the season on a high, even better than a year ago, at least in terms of his individual performances. It’s not clear if it’s enough to keep himself getting more chances at Stamford Bridge.