Waste of money, waste of a place in the starting line up, waste of talent, general wasteman.
That’s the impression most of us have formed about the forward in recent years – or more specifically, since his move to Chelsea.
Well think again. The Spaniard went back to where it all began after leaving Chelsea and under Diego Simeone, seems to have found his mojo again.
It’s not been easy – there was a huge wait for his 100th goal in an Atletico Madrid shirt, but it finally came, and since the sale of Jackson Martinez this January (because when that kind of money comes in for a forward who can’t hit a barn door, you can only imagine Simeone packed Jackson’s bags himself and would’ve carried him on his back to China if need be), Torres has found form.
Form to the extent that the club, who were ready to cut him loose this summer, are now seriously considering a new deal – if their ‘transfer ban’ allows them to do so – and you have to hope it will, or they really do have issues up top.
Torres probably wouldn’t be short of offers, which is astounding considering the way his reputation plummeted following his £50 million move from Liverpool to west London.
His finest moment in a Chelsea shirt undoubtedly came against Barcelona at the Camp Nou, and while Garry Neville probably still hasn’t recovered from that goal – and the same could probably be said for Victor Valdes, a man he terrorised almost as much as he did Nemanja Vidic – it didn’t do much to save Torres’ reputation at Chelsea in the long term.
Both Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho tried and failed to get anything resembling the old Torres back, and following an ill-fated spell in Italy with AC Milan, a club who’ve declined as rapidly as Torres in recent years, El Nino returned home to where it all began.
At the Vicente Calderon, he is loved by the fans. A missed shot is cheered, not jeered, and the players look up to him – they don’t roll their eyes.
To his credit, not once have we seen Torres moan or his head go down for more than a minute after a missed shot on goal.
His attitude and the comments he’s made in public have generally been positive and toeing the party line – which considering the way certain individuals react if their birthday cake isn’t to size, let alone if they’ve gone from someone who has been seen as world class to utter trash, is impressive.
Even during his time at Chelsea when he was considered dire, Torres managed to become the first player ever to score in the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Community Shield, the World Club Cup, the Champions League and the Europa League in the space of a year.
He also managed to be the top scorer at Euro 2012, despite being one of the worst players around at that time according to fans, the media and anyone who possessed the gift of sight.
Now, on the back of three goals in the space of a week, including of course, the customary one at the Camp Nou, Torres looks like a revived player.
This season, the forward has been impressive – yes, the goals have taken a while to come – and for a forward, you can see how that would become an issue, but for sheer lack of proven and consistent alternatives, Simeone has been forced to stick with the forward, and it seems that now, it is finally beginning to pay dividends.
Atleti are a side who don’t usually score many goals, and with their forward issues since Diego Costa departed, that trait has become all the more prominent.
That being said, since the winter break, Torres has stepped up and taken responsibility, and along with the astounding Antoine Griezmann and Koke – not to mention a host of other names, because this remarkable side do not carry passengers – meaning Atleti’s trophy hopes have been kept alive.
His link up play and work rate have been astounding at times this term for someone on the wrong side of 30 – not that you would get away with slacking in a Cholo side and expect to ever see the light of day again.
Now, sitting on seven goals and three assists in La Liga and one in the Champions League, it looks like the player who once opened up defences like they were a packet of crisps *cough Nemanja Vidic, cough* is back.
Of course, we’ve said this before.
Time and time again under Mourinho especially, Torres was doing the work, making the runs and even getting into position, and failing to produce an end product.
His decline wasn’t for a lack of trying, that is one thing you cannot level at the player, and yes, he has lost a yard of pace – but returning to the place he’s revered and loved has given him something that – as a forward – is arguably more important.
Confidence. And it’s that confidence that has seen Torres get back to something that looks a bit like the forward we all used to know.