Fernando Torres: Chelsea's £50 Million Reprisal of Andriy Shevchenko

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Fernando Torres: Chelsea's £50 Million Reprisal of Andriy Shevchenko
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The Elizabeth Kubler-Ross model for grieving advances in five stages: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Chelsea supporters—and one might suspect owner Roman Abramovich—have successfully navigated this process with Fernando Torres over the past three-and-a-half years, but they have had substantial practice.

In 2006, AC Milan's Andriy Shevchenko was a man in form. Having scored 19 goals in 28 Serie A matches, the forward's stock reached £30.8 million, per BBC Sport, and Chelsea audaciously pulled the trigger on Britain's most expensive transfer at the time.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
The word is used liberally today but Andriy Shevchenko is an AC Milan "legend."
During the Ukrainian's Italian spell, he scored 172 goals in 316 appearances from 1999 to 2006, earning the 2004 Ballon d'Or; Abramovich would have expected the 29-year-old to maintain his rampant goalscoring figures for two more seasons at least.

However, tension, turnover and shifting form saw Shevchenko's west London foray turn sour.

In 2006-07, his first season at Stamford Bridge, the 31-million man played 50 games; had his Milan form held one might have expected 30-plus goals, yet playing alongside the irrepressible vacuum called Didier Drogba and adjusting to English football, Shevchenko scored just 13 times.

Struggles continued in 2007-08, which saw Jose Mourinho and Abramovich part ways in September 2007; leading many to suspect Mourinho's decision to omit Shevchenko from Chelsea's first five league outings was a source of turbulence between the headstrong owner and manager.

After Mourinho's exodus, Shevchenko was included in 13 consecutive league team sheets by Avram Grant until an eventual ankle injury sidelined the forward. Following Chelsea's loss to Manchester United in the 2008 UEFA Champions League final, Grant was sacked and Luiz Felipe Scolari was installed.

The Brazilian allowed Shevchenko the privilege of returning to Milan in 2008-09 on a season-long loan. By then Chelsea supporters had long-since accepted Shevchenko's decline: Bought at 29 years old, now 31, what else could have happened other than a gradual decline in skills and production?

Getty Images/Getty Images
Things never quite clicked for Andriy Shevchenko at Chelsea.

It made the grieving process rather simple.

Yet, somewhat unsurprisingly, Abramovich added to the Blues' striking woes all over again.

Abramovich had long been enamoured with Spanish international Fernando Torres, attempting to sign El Nino in 2003, per Marca (h/t ESPN FC), 2005, 2006 and 2010, according to The Mirror, and was rebuffed by Atletico Madrid and Liverpool each time of asking.

While at Anfield, the Spaniard was his usual goalscoring self—mirroring Shevchenko's Milan form.

Intent on capturing his white whale, Chelsea's Russian billionaire bid £40 million—per The Telegraphon 27 January 2011, only to be rejected a fifth time.

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Not used too frequently, but "transcendent" may describe Fernando Torres with Liverpool.
In the era before financial handcuffing was of adjudicatory consequence, having an owner with unfathomably deep pockets meant "yes" depended merely on one's fervour. Abramovich waged a British transfer record fee of £50 million to the Merseysiders—while offering Torres a lucrative wage package—and the deal was completed on 31 January 2011.

Sixth-time lucky? Not so much.

Taking Chelsea's No. 9 shirt, immaculately represented by the likes of Roy Bentley, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Peter Osgood, Torres has been anything but—scoring 20 goals from 110 Premier League appearances.

In an ironic turn of events, Sky Sports' Simone Bargellini has reported AC Milan are—yet again—taking interest in loaning a British transfer record signing from Chelsea Football Club. Whether the Blues elect to relinquish Torres for a year remains to be seen; what has not remained quelled, however, is the jubilant stance Chelsea supporters retain for this prospective deal.

From Torres' goal at the Camp Nou, to the corner won in the Allianz and a go-ahead goal at the Amsterdam Arena, the Spanish striker has had beneficial moments in blue, but they are largely overshadowed by his inability to fulfil a mammoth transfer fee and replicate his stellar past.

Blame, though—like many things—goes both ways.

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Chelsea are not spotless in this plight; more could have been done at the beginning to ensure El Nino had a legitimate chance at replicating the Chelsea careers of his predecessors.

Instead, the Blues aided in turning their record signing into a catastrophe by acquiring him with a firm "No. 9" already in place and doing so for an inordinate amount of money, equaling fantastical expectations and unenviable pressure.

Invariably clubs move on as Chelsea should this transfer window, ridding themselves of past mistakes and allowing Torres to find greener pastures elsewhere.

After his 2008-09 San Siro loan spell, Shevchenko returned to his boyhood club of Dynamo Kiev, retiring in 2012 after 84 appearances and 30 goals in three seasons.

Should history repeat itself, Torres heading to Milan then finishing his career with boyhood club Atletico Madrid—a place sure to love the forward unconditionally—would be an amiable ending to a rather mysterious and depressingly barren Chelsea stretch.

 

*All stats, with no in-text citation, provided by TransferMarkt.

 

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