When Fernando Torres signed for Chelsea in January 2011, Blues fans were pretty excited. El Nino had been one of the most feared strikers in the Premier League up until then, and he had a tendency to score against Chelsea.
That natural goalscoring ability prompted Roman Abramovich to shell out £50 million for the striker’s services. However, instead of getting this Torres:
Chelsea got one who did this:
It took him three months to score his first goal for the club, against West Ham at Stamford Bridge.
That was to be his only goal in 18 appearances for the Blues in the 2010-11 season.
It took him less time to get off the mark in 2011-12 as he scored against Manchester United at Old Trafford in August. Chelsea were 3-0 down at half time as Torres did this:
Before giving the Blues a lifeline with this fine finish.
Then he did this.
And a lot of people laughed for a long time.
He spent the rest of the season in Didier Drogba’s shadow, as the Ivorian powered through what was to be his final season at Stamford Bridge. Torres had to settle for a role on the substitutes' bench as Andre Villas-Boas was sacked and Roberto Di Matteo took over for the rest of the season.
Chelsea threw everything at their Champions League campaign and reached the semifinals against Barcelona. They took a 1-0 lead to Camp Nou before going two goals and a man down in the first half. The 10 Blues spent the second half camped in their own box, and when Torres joined the action it was as a defensive reinforcement. Nobody expected him to do this.
Despite this heroic goal, the £50 million man was again on the bench for the final in Munich. He came on for Salomon Kalou in the dying minutes when Chelsea were 1-0 down and won a corner, which Drogba converted. Then Torres was informed that he would not be among the first five players to take a penalty. He was understandably upset by this decision.
Still, he got a Champions League medal and with Drogba departing he would be the first-choice striker at Stamford Bridge. He scored four goals in the opening weeks of the season before being unfairly dismissed against Manchester United at the end of October.
The resulting ban knocked his confidence again, and he went 11 hours without scoring. Di Matteo was sacked and replaced with former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, and Chelsea went into meltdown.
Although Benitez failed to return Torres to his free-scoring former glory, the striker ended the season with 22 goals. The majority of his strikes came in Chelsea’s triumphant Europa League campaign, including this one in the final against Benfica.
He rekindled his love of scoring in Europe at the beginning of the 2013-14 season in the UEFA Super Cup against Bayern Munich, finishing off this excellent counter-attack.
The awareness that he showed to take advantage of the defensive error is a hint that he could be back to his best. He looked sharp on his return to the side against Southampton and if he keeps it up, it looks like the moving story of Chelsea's number nine could have a happy ending after all.