Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy has revealed his old team-mates were "negative" about Fernando Torres' ability while the Spaniard romped through Premier League defences at Anfield.
Torres has failed to hit the heights of his Merseyside days since joining Chelsea for £50 million in 2011.
Murphy suggests that, now that the striker's unstoppable pace and power has dissipated, his technical side isn't good enough to overcome the burden of playing at Stamford Bridge—something his former team-mates acknowledged years ago. Murphy told Ian Cruise of talkSPORT:
I remember when he was doing well at Liverpool taking (sic) to a couple of the lads there and they were a bit negative about his technical ability and what he didn’t have, rather than what he did have, which was pace and power. But the rest of his game has never been perfect, far from it, in fact.
There was a spell at Liverpool when he was unplayable because of his power and his pace, but once he lost that and his confidence went he became reliant on his technical ability, which he’s not very good at – his hold up play, his passing, his decision making, which is terrible.
Murphy's comments intensify the spotlight on Chelsea's misfiring forward. Torres was dropped to the bench for the Blues' 3-1 Champions League loss to Paris Saint-German and failed to influence the game as a substitute on the hour mark.
Jose Mourinho appeared to aim a thinly veiled jab his way after the match. The Portuguese boss opted to start Andre Schurrle—who isn't a natural striker—in Torres' place, but witnessed no impact from the former Atletico Madrid man when he entered proceedings.
Mourinho wasn't best pleased after the match, telling reporters:
I’m not happy with my strikers’ performances so I had to try things. And with Andre at least I know we have one more player to have the ball, one more player to associate with the other players, even though he’s not a striker.
But football is not just about that. It’s also about scoring goals, getting behind, and that is for strikers. Real strikers.
Indeed, Torres' stats are far from convincing this season. He has netted seven goals across 29 appearances in the Premier League and Europe, with just four coming in the former competition, per WhoScored.com.
Like Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba, he isn't creating many opportunities to score, as noted by Opta Joe:
45 - Chelsea trio Ba, Torres & Eto'o have mustered 45 PL shots on target between them this season, 25 fewer than Suarez alone. Occasional.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 3, 2014
Murphy is correct when outlining Torres' pace and power as his main attributes, but few would have predicted the striker's prolonged fall from grace.
Many believed his original bout of poor Chelsea form was just a phase—similar to that suffered by most players—but it's fair to say the lack of improvement across three years suggests the striker has permanently lost his spark.
Torres' future appears predictable. The Daily Mail's Matt Barlow reports Inter Milan's interest, a move that would be perfect for the 30-year-old.
Serie A is typically a haven for players who are slowing down—think Francesco Totti, Andrea Pirlo and Javier Zanetti—suggesting El Nino could save face with a prosperous spell at the San Siro.
The 2010 World Cup winner's limited displays ensure he is a doubt for this summer's tournament. In many ways, if he fails to make Vicente del Bosque's squad, the four-year period from which he lifted the international trophy will define his career as much as the lead-up to Spain's triumph.