But, if he stays with the Blues, can he make a big comeback this coming season?
I honestly think so.
Now before you go and peg me as some kind of Torres Fanboy™ or backer of every Chelsea player no matter what they do, know that my first-ever story for Bleacher Report in March of 2012 was a somewhat scathing piece with opinions like this:
Besides not being able to put the ball in the back of the net—Chelsea has paid $16 million a goal for Torres to date—the offensive flow suffers when he plays. He's incredibly tentative and seems to have trouble controlling passes on the break. His feet often fail him and the lack of confidence shows all over his face.
Quickly, I found out how many myopic Blues fans really love Torres and will stand by him no matter what he does—or doesn't do. A poll in another story on Torres I wrote before last season indicated that 51 percent of respondents thought that El Nino would score over 20 goals in the then-upcoming English Premier League season.
He finished with just eight. And that is just eight goals as a heavily relied-on lone striker getting loads of playing time in a 4-2-3-1 formation with talented midfielders like Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar feeding him.
Not good enough. That's just eight more than you and I scored. And on zero shots brother.
In contrast, defender Branislav Ivanovic had five goals in the league last season. John Terry had four in just 11 starts. Frank Lampard had a club-leading 15 goals in seven less starts (21 to Torres's 28) while taking 12 more shots (80 to 68) than Torres.
The numbers don't lie.
Now granted, the 29-year-old Spaniard was really effective in international play and seems to be a huge and productive part of the Spanish national team where he just won his second Golden Boot after scoring five goals for La Furia Roja in the tournament in which his Spain lost to Brazil 3-0 in the final in Rio de Janeiro last Sunday.
So five goals in five games in a tournament—granted four of them against the anemic-but-hearty Tahiti squad in a record-setting 10-0 rout—but just eight in 28 Premier League starts?
One ugly hallmark of Torres's time at Stamford Bridge, at least in league play, has been his painfully long scoring droughts. Most managers would find a way to fix this problem at the striker spot. But Chelsea is Chelsea.
With a revolving door of managers—including one brought in to help Torres get off the schnide, Rafael Benitez—and strikers leaving (Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba, Daniel Sturridge) and coming in (Demba Ba) all around him, it's hard to put all of the blame squarely on him.
But Torres, if he does end up staying in West London this year, needs to do better for Chelsea to make a run at the Premier League title and make some noise in UEFA Champions League play.
And I say he absolutely will. I'm predicting 20 goals in the EPL and another 10 in other competitions—and not too far off from the club-leading 23 he scored in all competitions for the Blues this past calendar year.
Why? A number of things. Anger. Motivation. Luck. A restored sense of confidence. And most importantly, a wizard of a manager (Jose Mourinho) to help him retain that oh-so valuable confidence and keep him out of any mental funks—something Benitez, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo simply could not do.
And believe me, Bluebloods, that really matters. The psychological aspect in sports always looms larger than the press can possibly put into words.
As Torres said in a Sky Sports article that he intends to play out his contract with Chelsea and is now wisely concentrating on the future.
"All the things that happened to me are in the past," he said. "This season [2012-13] has been much better than the first two. I am looking forward."
Whether or not Torres remains at Stamford Bridge and stays as the club's main option at striker remains to be seen, as does the tactical formation Mourinho chooses to go with. Would "The Special One" dare experiment with a 4-3-3 or something else more offense-oriented in England's top flight of football?
Efforts to bring Napoli's Edinson Cavani to West London seem to have hit an impasse with a report in Wednesday's Daily Mail suggesting Blues owner Roman Abramovich just doesn't want to get into a bidding war with Ligue 1's Paris Saint-Germain who, according to the London Evening Standard, appear to be on the verge of paying the Uruguayan striker's £54 million release clause.
And from reading many stories about it, as well as Twitter, it seems most Chelsea fans are more than alright with passing on Cavani—especially at that exorbitant price.
Maybe the Blues had a recent bad experience with a previously overpaid striker?
Oh I kid, I kid. Well, maybe not. Hey, can't we all just get along here? We're all Chelsea fans, right? C'mon people. Seriously. If we can't kid a dude making more in a week than we could possibly make in a year or two for simply playing a game, then who can we kid?
Anyway, Torres did hit his fair share of woodwork last season and also botched a handful of easy scoring attempts over the last couple of seasons including this doozy against Manchester United on Sept. 18, 2011 in a 3-1 Blues loss at Old Trafford.
This season, expect Torres—who started his career with Atletico Madrid—to convert on more of those attempts early on and get his confidence back in league play. If not, the critics will undoubtedly return like lightning bugs in the Midwest in the summer.
And rightfully so.
Chelsea could certainly get by with Torres, Ba and Romelu Lukaku as striker options, but it seems much will still happen in the summer transfer market and that those three might not be the three Mourinho has to work with come Aug. 17 when the Europa League champions host Hull City at Stamford Bridge in their opener.
Lukaku certainly deserves his chance after shining at West Bromwich Albion last season (17 goals) on loan, but who knows what Abramovich, Mourinho and management are thinking right about now.
Talk of a stepping effort for Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski appeared in the Daily Mail recently and it seems like he would be a nice fit for Chelsea, although that could mean that Lukaku may have to out on loan again.
And high-profile names like Luis Suarez (Liverpool) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG) have also been cropping up recently. Only true insiders know who the Blues may be really close to landing at this particular point in time.
A potential triumvirate of Lewandowski or Suarez with Torres and Lukaku to work with up top sounds like a recipe for success for the new manager. Then toss in a midfield with potential players like Lampard, Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Victor Moses, Kevin de Bruyne, Marco van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle, and it's no wonder Blues fans are absolutely foaming at the mouth right now.
Chelsea backers—those who haven't already totally given up on Torres—seem to perpetually be waiting for him to break out of his royal blue funk, but it seems that if he continues to struggle in league play, Mourinho will have no trouble letting him go elsewhere.
The Daily Mirror reported last week that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is interested in bringing Torres to the Emirates, while The Sunday Times reported that Ba is holding talks with Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia's Premier League.
But where would that leave Chelsea at the striker position if both were to be sold?
From where I'm sitting, it seems the Blues will likely live or die with Torres—for at least another six months, until the winter transfer window—sign another big-name scorer this summer and give Lukaku his shot, meaning Ba will likely be gone.
And with some pressure taken off him by being surrounded and somewhat pushed by scorers of Lewandowski's or Suarez's and Lukaku's caliber, expect Torres to ultimately break out.
If you're a Chelsea fan expecting big things this coming season, backing Torres to finally prove his worth is the only thing to do whether you like the guy or not, whether it's just wishful thinking or blind faith. But it is completely fair to criticize him for his past shortcomings with the club.
Goalscorers seem to score goals in bunches, and under Mourinho's tutelage, expect Torres to blossom at last and start earning some of that big money that his gaudy contract pays him.
The time is now Fernando. Por favor mi hermano. Por favor.
Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11
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