Demba Ba's Winner vs. Swansea Heaps More Uncertainty on Fernando Torres' Future

Dan Levene@@blueschronicleFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2014

NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 2: Demba Ba (R) of Chelsea comes off injured and is replaced by team mate Fernando Torres during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at St James Park on February 2, 2013 in Newcastle, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

Hitting the turf twice to give a prayer of thanks, Demba Ba became the unlikely saviour of Chelsea's season this week.

In scoring the goals that put the Blues through to the Champions League semi-final, reigniting their Premier League title hopes, Ba gave a glimpse of something rarely seen since his Chelsea signing in January last year.

His goals were far from elegant or pretty, but both were well taken, showed a striker's instinct that has been lacking so often for Chelsea and were impeccably timed.

In short, they were everything Fernando Torres has failed to give this season—and for some time before.

The inclusion of Ba in the starting line-up against Swansea had taken most by surprise, though, of course, it shouldn't have.

Strikers famously play off confidence, and his goal against Paris Saint-Germain ensured that was something he was far from lacking.

But the main reason for the lack of expectation of this particular Jose Mourinho gambit was that Ba has played so infrequently under the Portuguese coach.

His last start in the Premier League was at Norwich on October 6, and Ba was strongly linked with a move out of the club in January, as Simon Johnson wrote in The Independent back in November.

But in scoring against Swansea, Ba notched up a statistic that highlights what an abject season this has been for Torres.

The Spaniard has scored four goals in 1,442 Premier League minutes. It took Ba just 445 minutes to reach the same total—itself a far from exemplary title for a striker.

Mourinho has experimented with his forwards of late.

He has been clear that Samuel Eto'o is his first choice at Stamford Bridge, where he has scored all of his goals. But the Cameroonian is yet to score away from home, and that is generally where Torres has gotten the nod.

That Andre Schurrle was picked to play as a No. 9 in the Champions League quarter-final first leg in Paris is a sign of how little confidence Mourinho has in Torres.

Now, Ba appears to have leapfrogged the Spaniard in the pecking order.

Chelsea now find themselves with a £50 million striker who is below Eto'o, Ba and Schurrle in the hierarchy. A man who, with two years left on his Chelsea contract, looks ripe for the picking, if only anybody could afford his huge wage and was interested in trying to coax the long-lost form out of his darkest recesses.

Mourinho says Torres has a Chelsea future, as reported by BBC Sport, and indeed he does, though it looks limited to somewhere between five and seven games (and I wouldn't bet on him starting many of those).

After that, who knows where for the man who has been given more last chances to succeed than any player in recent memory.

Atletico, as part of a deal to bring in Diego Costa, may be a good bet.

Somewhere on loan, Hernan Crespo-style, and with Chelsea footing a good slice of his wage bill remains another possibility.

But one thing looks certain: Torres' future beyond this summer surely does not lay at Chelsea.


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