Ba Brilliance Highlights Torres Troubles for Chelsea

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Ba Brilliance Highlights Torres Troubles for Chelsea
Ian Walton/Getty Images
There's plenty to think about for Fernando Torres

By now, everybody has probably seen the pictures and GIFs of Fernando Torres looking glum and dejected while everyone else in blue celebrated Demba Ba's second goal against Southampton.

To be honest, though, I couldn't really differentiate the look he was sporting then to the one he's carried about for two years since joining Chelsea.

It was a face of indifference, a face that looked disinterested and a face looking lost in the occasion. I'm not sure how anybody can feel any sympathy toward a player who has been protected by excuses but who does so little to alter his own fortunes—let alone his team's.

The contrasts with Ba stretches much further than the fact the new recruit scored a couple of goals on his debut. It'd be a disservice to the Senegalese striker to draw comparisons in how many times he found the net.

He was a menace in so many aspects of his play that you've been endlessly waiting for from the man he replaced in the team. Ba contested and fought, ran the channels, occupied men, looked willing and gave Chelsea a focal point to their attack that has largely been conspicuous by its absence with Torres in tow.

Ba's second goal epitomised the difference between himself and Torres, what Chelsea have needed and have now gotten. First of all, he pursued a hopeful David Luiz through-ball, hassling Jos Hooiveld into a mistake before seizing possession and releasing.

But following that, we saw what Ba was bought to do. As Moses, Ramires and finally Eden Hazard slowly probed, the new man was bristling with energy, always on the balls of his feet, on the lookout and aware to what was going on before bursting past his marker and into the area where Hazard had invitingly laid the pass.

Southampton 1-5 Chelsea
It was a simple goal in so many aspects, and to the untrained eye, it appears that Ba has to simply slot home a presentable chance, but take away the movement and intention to be there, and there would have been no chance to convert and no goal to applaud.

Ignoring Ba's goals, he always seemed there or thereabouts. Crosses and shots which eventually went awry virtually always had Ba in the vicinity in case something came to pass. For Victor Moses' goal, you could see the No. 29 lurking, and even for Frank Lampard's penalty, he encroached well inside the area. He was always a presence, constantly a threat and always looking hungry.

It may be a touch premature, but Ba already looks like the sort of addition that will actually add something to the side. You can't imagine his vibrancy from Saturday would wear off much. Aesthetically, there have been greater things of beauty, but what he lacks in grace he makes up for in output.

There's no denying that when Torres was at his razor-sharp peak he was one of the best in the business, but with every passing mundane match, the realisation grows that he will never be what he was.

El Nino has briefly sparked into life at times during his 24 months in southwest London, but his brittle confidence means those showings have been to few and too far between.

The Chelsea fans' optimism that the Torres of old will soon reappear in Blue has all but dissipated, and surely now there seems little or no future left at Stamford Bridge for the £50 million British record signing.

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In my eyes, what Torres is really lacking is not an extra yard of pace or more finishing practice but the desire to make a difference, the determination to burst into the box, to demand a pass to his feet or into space.

These are mental, not physical or technical attributes, and once they've gone they are the most difficult to regain.

The manner in which Torres has gone about his business of late appears to suggest that he himself doesn't appear capable or motivated enough to want to put in the hard yards for Chelsea, which will bring goals and moments of glory for both him and his team.

Sitting looking on as Ba was embraced by players and fans alike at St Mary's, you had to wonder whether Torres really wanted to be there—not just sat on the bench, but involved with Chelsea at all.

A lack of viable alternatives during January will grant the Spaniard a further stay of execution until the summer, but thereafter a move away will be the best outcome for all concerned.

It may be that in new pastures and with the burden of his Stamford Bridge nightmare firmly behind him, Torres will have a mental millstone lifted from his shoulders and will be able to do himself justice.

Yet there just seems too many shackles upon him at present to ever be what he was and what Chelsea need him to be. Ba—complete with a set of dodgy knees—ticks so many of the boxes Torres doesn't and may invariably have written off a signing whom many felt was doomed from the start.

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