Chelsea FC and Fernando Torres: On borrowed time

Chelsea FC and Fernando Torres: On borrowed time


Just a couple of years ago the player nicknamed El Niño was arguably the best striker in the EPL. These days he’s more known for his exorbitant transfer fee (£50,000,000) than his scoring prowess.

At 28 years of age, he should be at the peak of his powers. Unfortunately he is not.

It appears as if he has already passed the prime of his career. Still, most players would probably trade their career years for Fernando Torres’ accomplishments in 2012 alone.

As a player for both, Chelsea and the national team of Spain, he won the FA Cup, the Champions League, the Euro 2012 and the Golden Boot of that tournament. By anyone’s standard he had a spectacular year, at least on a collective level.

Individually he continued where he left off last year – he flattered to deceive. Torres didn’t make any significant contribution to any of the recent additions to the titles he can display in his trophy cabinet. When one thinks about it, his single most important goal had been the title-winning goal for La Furia Roja against Germany at the 2008 Euro final.

That’s it. Other than that he was lucky enough to be part of teams that succeeded.

The massive transfer fee was a testimony for the player he had been, not the player that he is. It’s been almost 2 years since his move from Liverpool to Chelsea. While he scored 81 goals in 142 games for Liverpool (0,57 goals per game), he’s currently at 19 goals in 86 games for Chelsea (0,22 goals per game).

The benchmark for a world-class striker is around 1 goal in 2 games (0,50 goals per game), a ratio he even bettered during his Liverpool days. His all-time numbers (as of 19th November 2012) are 191 goals in 471 games (0,40 goals per game). Even if we shed his Chelsea statistics his numbers are only slightly better at 172 goals in 385 games (0,44 goals per game).

Going by the numbers, one can arrive at the conclusion that Fernando Torres has probably peaked in Liverpool, an extended purple patch if you will.

There are probably only a handful of world-class strikers plying their trade in Europe’s top leagues at the moment. In Germany, there are Mario Gomez (181 goals in 299 games; 0,60 goals per game) and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (256 goals in 392 games; 0,65 goals per game).

The latter has proven his naysayers wrong after two ill-fated spells with Real Madrid and AC Milan respectively. In Italy there’s Edison Cavani (129 goals in 256 games; 0,50 goals per game) while the French league can boast the man of the hour, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (246 goals in 504 games; 0,48 goals per game).

Ibrahomivc’s numbers would’ve been probably better were it not for his Juventus days where he scored Chelsea Torres-que numbers (26 goals in 92 games; 0,28 goals per game). After leaving the Turin outfit, however, his numbers have steadily increased and now stand at 156 goals in 262 games (0,59 goals per game; per 19th November 2012).

Ibracadabra is one of those rare cases where his statistics improve as he matures (2010/11: 0,51; 2011/12: 0,79; 2012/13 ongoing: 0,85).

In England, there are a couple strikers who fit the bill. At Manchester City, there are his Atletico Madrid replacement, Sergio Argüero (160 goals in 351 games; 0,45 goals per game), Carlos Tevez 153 goals in 349 games (0,43 goals per game), though his ratio is hampered by his stay at Manchester United where he had to accommodate Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

Completely discounting for his Everton days as a teen, Rooney’s numbers are 184 goals in 376 games (0,48 goals per game) while his new striking partner Robin van Persie has scored 143 goals in 291 games (0,49 goals per game) since arrive in England. In light of his then persistent injury record it’s quite an achievement.

Fernando Torres all-time ratio (0,44 goals per game) suggest that he’s still up there with the elite. In absolute numbers that may be true but statistics can also be misleading. Unlike his peers Torres does not score regularly, not anymore. He scores every once in a while and completely disappears of a grid for a while.

Last season he even managed to not score a goal in 24 hours of football. For a player as expensive as he is (on £180,000 a week, the joint-highest wage in the Premier League), that’s unacceptable. Even if selling Torres merchandise is a highly lucrative endeavor for Chelsea (or Adidas), he is paid to score goals first and foremost, which brings us to Chelsea’s indifferent form as of late.

Since late October Chelsea have lost three games in their last seven outings and have conceded the peak of the EPL table to Manchester City.

Though it would be unfair to single out Fernando Torres for blame, he’s a big part of the reason why Chelsea find themselves in the current situation – he simply doesn’t score frequently enough. The likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Victor Moses were acquired to supply him with chances, which they do.

El Niño on the other hand does his best to perplex even the sternest of advocates. With Didier Drogba gone, he has no rival for the no. 9 position, unless one considers the persistent moaning of Daniel Sturridge. He has by far the best creative players to accommodate him and he still doesn’t score at a rate that would justify his inclusion among the top earners in world football.

Salary-wise he earns as much as Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, only less than PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Anzhi’s Samuel Eto’o.

In a wicked twist of fate, the one player for whom he’s likely to make way currently plays at his beloved boyhood club, Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao. It’s even more interesting when one considers the fact that Atletico signed Falcao as a replacement for then City bound Sergio Agüero, who himself was labeled to be Fernando Torres long-term successor at the Spanish capital. Talk about things coming full-circle.

Out of all world-class strikers, Falcao is the easiest one to acquire, not cheapest though. The requisite buy-out clause for the Columbian hitman is set at £48,000,000 (roughly €60,000,000) which is almost exactly the amount Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich paid for Torres.

At this point it’s a forgone conclusion that Falcao will leave Atletico Madrid, summer 2013 being the latest. Buying Falcao should be a straightforward transaction, moving Fernando Torres, however, is a different matter altogether.

Even if the respected transfermarkt website values Fernando Torres at £28,000,000 (€35,000,000), he probably fetches as much as £16,000,000 – £20,000,000 (€20,000,000 – €24,000,000) at best. Even that value can only be credited to his still viable commercial appeal.

Though Chelsea’s owner ranks among the richest individuals walking the face of the earth, not even he is so extravagant to keep the luxury of Torres on the bench. Not in light of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play. There’s only one club in world football that actually has a super expensive bench-warmer, Real Madrid.

The player in question: Kaka. Real Madrid’s Florentino Perez is a billionaire, too. But it probably helps that Real Madrid is owned by its supporters, hence Mr. Perez doesn’t pay a dime out of his own pockets for Kaka’s salary, which is possibly the reason why he doesn’t mind.

Though no fluke, Chelsea FC have won their maiden Champions League trophy due to sturdiness, physicality and defensive prowess. Nevertheless, this current Chelsea side is much more entertaining than industrious.

As Chelsea’s woeful November has proven, a world-class striker is a must-have if Chelsea is serious about becoming the first side since AC Milan to successfully defend their Champions League title, among other trophies.

The winter transfer window opens in 6 weeks, in which the speculation about Falcao’s future will likely only intensify. If, or rather when, Falcao arrives at Chelsea, Fernando Torres is arguably done at the elite clubs. Those who can afford him don’t need him (Manchester City, PSG, Anzhi, Zenit), while those who want him (is there any club that wants to swoop for him?) can’t afford him.

One likely scenario is that Chelsea proposes a player (Torres) plus cash deal for Falcao. It’s probably the only club Fernando Torres would be willing to agree to a massive pay cut in order to facilitate the deal. Other than that, there aren’t many options on the table. Playing second fiddle to Falcao? It could become a reality if he doesn’t find a suitor, soon.

Normally, a player with a massive salary is well-protected. That is unless the owner is a trigger-happy billionaire who goes by the name of Roman Abramovich. The Chelsea supremo is quite ruthless in that regard. He has proven time and again that he doesn’t have any qualms about sending his expensive signings out on loan (Shevchenko) or sack his managers after buying their costly contracts (Andres Villas-Boas) at a massive loss.

Somewhere in China is Didier Drogba, the player who successfully fended off Shevchenko and relegated Torres to the bench during his Chelsea days. He capped off his European adventure with a Champions League trophy at the age of 34, and is fondly remembered by Chelsea fans as living legend.

These days he’s bullying Chinese defenders for fun and collects a Torres-esque paycheck doing it. On the other end of the spectrum Fernando Torres, 28, could possibly face the end of his career at the very elite of European football. Even Shevchenko didn’t return to his boyhood club until he was nearing mid-30’s.

Six weeks or six months, one way or another Fernando Torres future will be sorted out in 2013.

Using the Director of Football in FM 13
Mark Clattenburg: Guilty or not there will be casualties


    • I’m fairly certain I addressed it at the beginning of the article. I believe those who can read are in advantage.

    • A very good article about Torres and agrees with each and every point you listed. He has had enough time to proof his worth but has dismally failed to impress his supporters. It’s time he wears a different jersey as the blue color is not meant for him. We wish you well Torres, this was the worst buy and we have lost Roi on the money paid Liverpool. Liverpool sold him at the right time and new well when to make a sale. Bye Torres, you will hang your boots at an early age.



  1. please do not forget that TORRES work rate in the game is better then most of the strikers in the world ,so please give him another chance and he will prove it.
    thank you

    • I didn’t but if work rate was what Chelsea were gunning for they could’ve bought Emile Heskey instead who probably would’ve had similar statistics by now. 50 mil is steep price to pay for a misfiring striker.

  2. I still don’t think a bad november for Chelsea is solely on the shoulders of Torres. I follow every match that Chelsea play and I’m here to tell you he doesn’t get the kind of chances oren would think. Last weekend at West Brom, he had Daniel Sturridge playing in behind him with Moses on the right. The only player capable of presenting a pass was out wide on the left in Hazard. The other 2 on the bench. It’s easy to say Daniel Sturridge made runs Torres didn’t when Torres left the match. Why? Because its Juan Mata the one feeding them. Remember he was on the bench the first 60 minutes. I still know Torres has world class ability and is still capable of scoring goals. I hope he finds blistering form over the next month in a half, but if he doesn’t he will go somewhere that he’s content with and will find that form. I don’t really think he’s into personal achievements these days as he’s won about everything. No matter how you look at it when you pick the best Spain 11 over the last 6-7 years Torres will be in it. For the simple fact that he was a key part of this Spanish national generation that’s sadly coming to an end only to have a new group stepping up. I wish Torres the best as he’s a great person, but I’m still not sold on he’s being finished with Chelsea. What’d be more warming than this lad finding his talented deep down and lighting up Europe over the next 6 weeks and turning it into a great chelsea career. As a Chelsea supporter that’s what I want to see from such a great talent. I don’t want to see him be a failure, but I want him to be the number 9 we all know he truly can be.

    • I think that belongs to the category of wishful thinking rather than realistic expectations. In two years at Chelsea he scores at an average of once a month. That’s pathetic for a striker of supposed world-class pedigree. Let’s face it, he’s not a world-class striker anymore. He did a Brazilian, he peaked early and is on a downward spiral.

  3. Poor Torres, sadly the 50million spent for his signature is still on his head and not yet on his foot. Didier was bought for 26million and that money reflected on his foot and not hanged on his head. Lets hope he picks his form sooner rather than later, if he does, Didier will soon be forgotten.

    • That’s ridiculous. Didier is a Blues legend. Torres will never surpass Drogba’s accomplishments. Never.

  4. I think Torres should be given a chance at least up to the end of this season, if doesn’t shine then he can be sold in summer but he certainly isn’t to blame for chelsea’s current form.

  5. It is no secret that he started off very slowly upon his arrival at Chelsea. At the same time, I think this stigma has caused many to be stingy with credit when it’s due. He did, as you mentioned, win the Golden Boot at Euro, and everything else aside, he has scored 11 times in 24 starts so far this season. I think the addition of quality, creativity, and pace in midfield has helped his cause this year, but there is much to be played still, so we’ll just have to see.

  6. Let Torres go back to Atletico, or his rightful home in England that is Anfield. He will prove all the haters wrong when he joins a team that fits his style of play. Suarez, Torres, Gerrard, and Sterling would be lethal, and he is a good tiki taka player since he is used to it from the Spanish National Team. Come home Fernando, nuestros scousers te necesitamos! Viva El Ninio! YNWA

  7. yes, it is now fact that Fernando Torres is not doing well in Chelsea. this is not his fault being a religious man i am 100 percent sure that Chelsea is unlucky for him and goals for Chelsea has not been written in his fate. he should leave Chelsea now. important thing he is still dangerous striker and he is out form now it will be easy chance for any team to get good striker in a very cheep price. after leaving Chelsea Fernando torres will be the same Torres as he was in Liverpool. in short change team and change your fate.

  8. Hard to score when AVB would put him in the last 5-10 minutes of a game and then pointed the finger to say Torres didn’t get the job done. Get Sturridge off the field. He’s a selfish pig and has no idea there is no “I” in team!

  9. Some statements in your article hold no water and are conclusive – not expected of a good sports writer. I totally disagree with your claim that Torres has relinquished the tag of a world class striker and is a shadow of his glorious past. While you did some work in collating data – I don’t understand how you manage to contradict yourself by saying the statistics are misleading. I have watched every single football match played by Chelsea FC since the late 1990s. I have kept a keen eye on the team’s progress including Torres’ ongoing stint with us. He has come good but yes – he is expected to deliver more. But he was lacking in support and the creative trio built around him is just starting to take shape and form. If you are a Chelsea fan or have been following our matches – can’t you see that we have been leaking goals throughout this season? How can you pass the buck to Torres on Chelsea’s slump while there are 10 other players on the field? Football is a collective sport – a team game. And how Torres justifies his stand as a top earning player is not for you to decide but for the owner. If you had been busy abandoning this write-up and have not been keeping a tab of what’s been happening at the Bridge – RDM has been sacked and Rafa Benitez has been brought him as an interim manager. There are no points for guessing the motive behind the move. No one gives a twopenny dam on why and how Torres manages to stay afloat in an endless sequence of debacles created by the ‘media’. In the end, it boils down to football and not personal enmity or animosity or aloofness in understanding the game when it comes to who decides which player should be salaried and last 90 minutes in a game. Simply put – Torres again has the nod of the owner to continue playing for Chelsea FC and he has the support of fans like me to go on and play his football. Rain or shine, we stick like glue to our team and to players alike. It is with this spirit that we have won trophies in the past and will collect more. Stop picking on Torres, grow some and stick to professional football reporting. Your article is lop-sided and amateurish. Leave Chelsea FC to the owner and the fans and spare us the gibberish. Keep up with the good work on Drogba and Falcao. Leave Torres out of your shenanigans.

    • As a card-carrying Blues member I’m afraid I can’t and won’t stop. How about that? Torres is past-it, whether you like to admit it or not. 1 in 4 is hardly world-class. More like Emile Heskey. I assume you’re one of those people who believe that Andy Carroll is a quality striker. Torres has almost been at the Bridge for 2 years – he’s scoring ratio is 1 in a month. Yeah, that’s what a world-class striker looks like.

  10. Wow, Adi. No wonder you write for a site called “soccerlens” lol. Keep at it, son, you might make it nowhere one day. Cheers :)

  11. With all due respect to you “Adi” statistics don’t make a footballer, if that was the case, football would be played on FIFA13 while we sit and watch torres’ “85” shot accuracy rating … Torres is not dead ,I admit I havnt been a Chelsea Fan for long (since 2005) and since then, we’ve had plenty prospects ,stars and legends that have fallen off and bounced back , and Chelsea is still alive …its people like yourself that prohibit Fernando from gaining confidence. Around the world “Fernando Torres” ,when spoken about will always hold weight just like , Rooney, Messi or Ronaldo . With that said , I really hope your writing improves .


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