Fernando Torres: Why This Season Has Hinted at a Rejuvenation for the Spaniard

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2013

The statistics do not lie. 17 goals in a season is a handsome return for any striker, regardless of whether he cost a club £5 million or £50 million.

During his two-plus years at Stamford Bridge, the impression of Fernando Torres has become that of a castaway—a waste of money who doesn't deserve his place in the team.

With a British transfer record fee hanging around his neck, the Spaniard has been an easy target for journalists sniffing for a story and fans looking for a figure to blame for their team's misgivings. Dig a little deeper, though, and the 29-year-old has somewhat more worth to Chelsea than he is given credit for.

He may not be the explosive, prolific Torres of old—the Torres who football fans fell in love with during his years at Atletico Madrid and Liverpool—but nonetheless he remains a talented footballer.

Indeed, for some, his best years are behind him. When considering his goalscoring exploits of yesteryear, it's a theory that holds some element of truth, but it's a narrow-minded approach to look at him in those terms now.

Since joining Chelsea, Torres has adapted his game significantly. Whereas at Liverpool the team's sole objective was to create opportunities for Torres to score—which he invariably did—those duties are shared around at Chelsea and have been for some time.

This is a team that isn't solely dependent on a striker to fire them to glory—the Blues have Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Frank Lampard and Oscar to help do that.

Even Demba Ba, so prolific at Newcastle United, has found goals somewhat harder to come by at Stamford Bridge since joining the club in January (four in 14 games).

We have seen the same with Torres, of course, but the difference is he cost seven times more than Ba's £7 million transfer fee.

That said, Torres' form this season has suggested the player Chelsea fans have waited to reappear at any given moment is still there. That player may be lurking in the shadows more these days, but Torres has enjoyed spells this term where he has looked impressive.

One criticism aimed at the Spaniard is that he rarely scores goals weighted in importance. Yet, of the 17 goals he has scored this season, 12 have been either Chelsea's first or second in a game. 

He scored the opener against Manchester City in the Community Shield—which Chelsea lost 3-2—while other strikes against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, Norwich City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sunderland, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough have opened the scores.

Granted, it's not at Robin van Persie or Luis Suarez levels, but they're not playing in this Chelsea team where the midfielders score as many goals as they create. Contrary to popular belief, Mata, Hazard and company are not there to spoonfeed their teammate.

What we have seen from Torres this season has been a player beginning to find his feet at a club where he was at first fighting a juggernaut in Didier Drogba for supremacy, before eventually being made No. 1 and forced to adapt his game.

Record price tag or not, there aren't many players in world football who could slot into that effortlessly. With 17 goals this term, perhaps Torres finally is.

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