The Demise of Fernando Torres: From World Cup Winner to Missing Brazil 2014?

Sam Pilger@sampilgerContributing Football WriterMay 13, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  A dejected Fernando Torres of Chelsea walks off the pitch following his team's 1-0 defeat during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park on March 29, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Fernando Torres would have been nervously glancing at his phone all this morning for a call to let him know he could be spending his summer in Brazil.

Four years after appearing in all seven of Spain’s games as they won their first World Cup, Torres could not have been certain of a place in Spain's provisional 30-man squad.

It will be trimmed to a final 23 players on May 25 when it is likely he will then be omitted in favour of Diego Costa, David Villa, Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Negredo.

Since making his 100th appearance for Spain against Saudi Arabia in September 2012, Torres has won just six more caps.

Two months ago, Torres spoke about his desire to help Spain defend their title in Brazil in the Daily Mirror, while conceding, "Those who are in the best form will be the ones to go."

The 30-year-old striker has not been in the best of form this season, and for most of the last four years.

It is now a full four years since we saw the real Torres over the course of a whole season, when he was still at Liverpool during the 2009-10 campaign.

Since then the football world has watched mystified as Torres has endured a long and painful slump.

It is almost unprecedented to see such a talented footballer so suddenly and completely lose his powers.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 11:  Fernando Torres of Spain lifts the World Cup trophy as the Spain team celebrate victory following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

There have been some important goals and even a steady supply of trophies, but Torres has stubbornly remained a forlorn figure.

When Torres lifted the World Cup four years ago, he was still a Liverpool player and revered as one of the best strikers in the world. He had finished the previous Premier League season with a record of 18 goals from 22 games.

Six months later, in January 2011, he extracted himself from a divided Anfield with a £50 million move to Chelsea. It appeared to be an incredible coup by Roman Abramovich, for at the time it seemed as though Chelsea were guaranteed goals.

In the previous decade Torres had scored 172 goals in 385 appearances for Atletico Madrid and Liverpool.

But Torres almost immediately shrunk when he slipped on a blue shirt, appearing to be burdened by the transfer fee, and scored just once in 18 appearances for Chelsea.

Andre Villas-Boas replaced Carlo Ancelotti in the summer of 2011, but still Torres looked a strangely subdued figure. It was as if he had fallen out of love with the game.

That season, his miss in front of an open goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford would come to symbolise his sudden slump and inability to overcome it.

He would manage six goals in 32 Premier League games that season, which included a four-month drought from November to March.

In the Champions League Torres scored Chelsea’s dramatic late winner against Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the second leg of the semi-final to set up a final against Bayern Munich.

The Spaniard would not be trusted with a place in the starting line-up for this final. Instead he came on as a late substitute and watched as his striking rival Didier Drogba scored both the equaliser in normal time and the winning penalty in the shootout.

That summer, Torres won the Golden Boot at Euro 2012 with three goals that helped his country defend their European Championship title. Would this finally inspire Torres in the Premier League?

Back at Chelsea, Drogba had moved on to leave the stage clear for Torres, but again he struggled and managed just eight goals in 36 Premier League appearances even after his former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez had arrived as manager at Stamford Bridge in November.

European football provided some temporary salvation again as he scored nine goals to help Chelsea win the 2013 Europa League.

For a week in May 2013, Torres could actually boast of being the reigning winner of the World Cup, European Championship, Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup.

This past weekend, Torres scored Chelsea’s winning goal in their 2-1 win at Cardiff City; it was only his fifth in the Premier League all season.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 30:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match between Chelsea and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stamford Bridge on April 30, 2014 in London, England.
Clive Rose/Getty Images

He didn’t celebrate too much; it was a largely meaningless goal in a tired end-of-season dead rubber.

After the game, Sky Sports asked Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho if Torres remained in his plans for next season:

Yes, he's in my plans. He's a good player. I keep saying the same—Fernando is not the kind of player that with half a chance, he scores a goal. He's not the kind of guy that's going to score goal after goal. But the way he works, the way he moves, the work he contributes for the team...he is a player that I like, a player that the club respects and we are happy to have him next season, no problem.

Look at Mourinho’s words carefully. They are forced and unconvincing, as if he is desperately trying to think of something nice to say, but ultimately he can’t help further undermining Torres.

Actions speak louder than words, and the following day Sky Sports reported Chelsea had agreed a deal with Atletico Madrid for the £32 million purchase of another Spanish striker, Diego Costa.

There will probably be no space either in Spain’s final World Cup squad or Chelsea’s starting line-up for Torres.

The sad decline of Fernando Torres shows no signs of stopping yet.


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