Participating in this year's Confederations Cup as part of the Spanish national team, Torres had the game of his life before a raucous Jamaican crowd. The Chelsea striker had four goals in Spain's 10-0 victory over Tahiti in their second game of Confederations Cup action, a precursor tournament to next year's World Cup.
It was a day—both for Spain and Torres—of record-setting action. As noted by ESPN Stats & Information, Spain's 10-0 victory is the greatest in FIFA senior club history; the previous record was a nine-goal win:
Spain's 10-0 win over Tahiti is the largest win ever at a senior FIFA tournament— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 20, 2013
As noted by ESPN's Paul Carr, Spain's impressive victory was just the third time in history the world's top-ranked country hit the double-digit goal mark:
Spain scores 10 goals in a game for the third time. 13-0 vs Bulgaria in 1933. 12-1 vs Malta in 1983.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 20, 2013
As for Torres, his four-goal outing was one for the ages. Obviously, we can all count to four and know that it's a lot in a soccer match. But, more importantly from a message-sending standpoint, Torres' four goals tied a Confederations Cup record, per Infostrada Sports:
Fernando Torres equals Confederations Cup record by scoring 4 goals in one match, by Marzouq Al Otaibi (KSA) and Cuauhtémoc Blanco (MEX).— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) June 20, 2013
He also became the first Spanish player in history to have three hat-tricks for the senior club—a number that David Villa would match seven minutes later—and was the first to score four goals in a game since 1999, per Carr:
Fernando Torres is the first Spanish player with three career hat tricks. #ConfedCup— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 20, 2013
Fernando Torres is the first Spanish player to score four goals in a game since Raúl in 1999.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 20, 2013
Even against Tahiti—a side that has now been outscored 16-1 in their two Confederations Cup contests—this was the ultimate display of dominance. Spain, top to bottom, was absolutely brilliant throughout the match. They controlled possession for 68 percent of the match, prevented Tahiti from even getting a shot on goal and had a couple near-misses that would have sent the score flying even higher.
One of those belonged to the unquestioned Man of the Match. Given a penalty kick—usually a pretty good bet to find the back of the net—Torres clanked his best opportunity of the game off the top woodwork.
Perhaps he was just confused by not having to weave around defenders, as he did on his first goal, a tantalizing right-footed give-and-go number that put the Spaniards ahead 1-0.
Missed penalty kicks or not, this was a version of Torres that had not been seen for a great while. This was a version of Torres that once again looked like one of the greatest goalscorers in the world, a maestro in the open field always on the precipice of his next concerto.
To put it another way: The version of Torres folks in Jamaica saw on Tuesday was the version Chelsea fans thought they were getting in 2011.
It was then that Torres, coming over in a record £50 million deal from Liverpool, was supposed to make one of the biggest splashes in Blues history. The last-minute high-wire act of these negotiations saw Liverpool hold out for every last dime and for Chelsea to pay it because they thought they were getting an attack-solidifying superstar. The Blues handed over Torres a five-and-a-half year contract that guaranteed him £175,000 a week, putting him right alongside his Premier League contemporaries among the world's highest-paid players.
Putting it mildly, Chelsea haven't been pleased with their purchase. In his two years at Stamford Bridge, Torres has been the cause of mass derision among the Blues fanbase. He's scored only 14 goals in 48 Premier League starts, four fewer than his 2009-10 total with Liverpool. To put that in perspective, Torres was only able to play in 20 games during that Premier League campaign.
Here's a look at how Torres' goal scoring has declined—along with his role—over these past half-decade or so:
We're going to go out on a limb here and say that's not what Chelsea were expecting from a man making £175,000 a week; they'd probably expect more from a £75,000-a-week striker.
Over these two-and-a-half years, Torres has battled through role switches, constant mockery from fans (somewhat justified) and goalless streaks that lasted upwards of 20 games. The undying belief has been that Torres' time at Stamford Bridge has been an unmitigated failure, a belief that (for once) didn't seem all that crazy.
And with the 2013 summer transfer window expecting to bring massive changes to the club, Torres was looked at as a likely candidate to be headed elsewhere. Jose Mourinho took over his old post this summer, a move the Chelsea board looks at as a stabilizing force to what has been a whirlwind of managerial hires. Mourinho brings with him not only the respect of the entire Premier League, but the acknowledgement that Chelsea were going to spend and spend hard.
Many of Mourinho's rumored expenditures—ones that have yet to be completed—involve possible strikers coming to Stamford Bridge. The club has been linked to Edinson Cavani, Hulk and Edin Dzeko, among others.
Signing any of those elite names would be a clear sign that Chelsea are looking to move forward and chalk up Torres' signing as a loss. Metro's James Boylan reported the Blues were willing to sell Torres for £20 million, a massive hit on that initial £30 million investment.
Should Chelsea keep Fernando Torres?
Throughout the process, though, Torres has maintained that he's satisfied with Chelsea and wants to move forward with Mourinho.
Speaking with Spanish radio earlier this week (h/t The Independent), Torres seemed like a man who thinks he'll be at Chelsea next season.
"I am the first person to admit that a lot more was expected of me," Torres said. "Now I have the added pressure of Mourinho. He is a very demanding coach but he always guarantees success, and I trust that he has a plan for me."
On Thursday, perhaps since the first time they purchased him, Torres looked like he belonged with such a club. Torres' name might bring mockery from fans at this point, but his message against Tahiti was clear: Don't count me out just yet.
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