Fernando Torres: 10 Reasons He Flopped After Leaving Liverpool
We all know how the saga unfolded.
The turned head from serious interest in the summer of 2010. The disinterested first half of the 2010-2011 season. The last-minute transfer request in January 2011.
The whirlwind arrival at Stamford Bridge in the closing hours of deadline day. The smashing of the British transfer record.
The abysmal form of a player once known as one of Europe's most fearsome strikers.
The story of Fernando Torres' thus far unhappy marriage with Chelsea Football Club has not ended yet, but rumors are beginning to surface that he may already be deemed surplus to requirements by the powers that be at Stamford Bridge.
Rumors that Andre Villas-Boas has strenuously denied, but continue to link him with a host of clubs around Europe.
How did the story turn out this way?
Here are ten reasons Fernando Torres has flopped after leaving Liverpool. Feel free to have your say below.
"We hate you so much because we loved you so much."
Such is the sentiment of many Liverpool fans.
Amidst Torres' whirlwind departure from Anfield, the iconic shirt burning pictures grabbed the headlines. When the transfer was confirmed, Chelsea fans were quick to rub it in to their Liverpool counterparts.
This was one of Europe's finest strikers leaving his spiritual home for a "big club" capable of "challenging for trophies."
Liverpool had lost their adopted son, and Chelsea couldn't wait to express their schadenfreude.
Torres arrived at Anfield an unpolished gem from Atletico Madrid. Rafa Benitez and his coaching team turned a striker of massive potential into one of the world's best.
By contrast, Torres arrived at Stamford Bridge arguably the finished article, with a hefty reputation and an even heftier price tag. The goals were expected to flow, not in the least in his first Chelsea game against his old employers.
It didn't happen. It still hasn't.
Much was made of Torres' poor physical form towards his last full season with Liverpool.
While finishing on the winning Spain team, he toiled at the 2010 World Cup and made a negligible contribution.
Perhaps his knee surgery in April 2010 was the turning point.
Since then, he hasn't shown the turn of pace, the acceleration, the gliding strides that he was so famous for in a Red shirt.
His first touch is sloppy, his movement lethargic, and his agility seemingly reduced.
Somewhere within Torres might still lie a true finisher's predatory instincts, but has he already passed his physical peak? Andre Villas-Boas also denies this, but will be wary of this distinct possibility.
Observers of the Chelsea-Fulham Boxing Day stalemate will not have missed the iconic moment that occurred at around the 70th minute.
No, it was not Villas-Boas' decision to withdraw Daniel Sturridge instead of Torres for Didier Drogba.
It was the movement of Torres out to Sturridge's right-wing position, as Drogba took up the lone striker role.
Perhaps it is indicative of the constant tactical changes that have been taking place at Stamford Bridge for the best part of 12 months.
Carlo Ancelotti's undistinguished last half year in charge at the Chelsea hot seat. Andres Villas-Boas' arrival and introduction of the high back line, only to have his players revert to the defensive hallmark of the Jose Mourinho era.
In a never-ending quest to quench owner Roman Abramovich's thirst for silver and to accommodate his £50-million marquee signing, the Chelsea coaching teams have had their work cut out trying to find a perfect formation in which Torres can thrive.
Torres has been the victim of the constantly changing Chelsea makeup.
It's always going to be hard to follow in the illustrious footsteps of one of the greatest strikers in a club's history.
Especially when he's still around and still capable of delivering in the biggest of occasions.
Chelsea have always insisted that Torres was not brought in to replace Drogba, and that both strikers have a role in the starting lineup, but reality reflects otherwise.
Didier Drogba coming on for Torres has been a frequent and favorite Chelsea substitution, until Drogba justified his place in the starting eleven and pushed Torres to the periphery with a series of fine goalscoring performances that rolled back the years.
With a bulldozing Drogba capable of wreaking havoc on the strongest defences and of scoring goals to deliver results and maintain a menacing breath down Torres' neck, Torres hasn't been able to fully usurp his predecessor (or striker partner) in the Chelsea pecking order.
Chelsea's Tactical Approach
Rafa Benitez built his team around Fernando Torres' strengths.
Torres was supposed to be the poster boy of the much-vaunted "new Chelsea."
But the DNA that has been ingrained in the Chelsea players is that of a dominant approach to the game. The team is set up to dominate possession of the ball and to crack open a defence sitting behind the ball.
That is where Didier Drogba comes in.
His pure physical power, fearsome shot on the turn, and imposing hold-up play has seen him deployed as Chelsea's lone front man for years, laying on shooting opportunities for the onrushing Frank Lampard and other goal scoring midfielders.
Fernando Torres' game is built on speed, explosion and finesse. He was tailor-made for the forward-looking, counter attacking Liverpool sides that exploited Steven Gerrard's and Torres' pace on the break.
Not so much for Chelsea's patient build-up play that requires the lone striker to be one of the creators-in-chief. A case of square pegs in round holes, then?
Chelsea: A Team in Transition
Torres' Liverpool had one of Europe's best footballing spines in that period: Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres.
As Rafa Benitez built his team on top of this spine, his was a Liverpool approaching their peak.
Contrast this with the Chelsea team of 2011.
Much has been made of the aging Chelsea squad and the need to overhaul.
Fernando Torres was supposed to inspire a new generation of Stamford Bridge wonders featuring Juan Mata, Oriol Romeu and Daniel Sturridge.
But the old guard still lurk. Perhaps too ominously.
Frank Lampard is as reliable as ever. John Terry is still the undisputed leader on the field (and some say in the dressing room). Didier Drogba still has an important role to play.
Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou, both schooled in the old Chelsea way, have been pushed to the peripheries but are still in and around the first team squad.
This is a Chelsea team in transition. It won't be an easy process.
Frank Lampard Is No Steven Gerrard
The Steven Gerrard-Frank Lampard debate has raged on for the best part of the last decade. Who's the better player? How on earth do (or did) England decide whom to use as their attacking midfielder?
Both players are legends for their clubs, and both are devastatingly effective at what they do.
The problem is that they go about their business in completely different ways.
Steven Gerrard's game is built around pace, energy and endeavor. Frank Lampard's is about vision, guile and timing.
That's why Torres had a feast playing off Gerrard, who was converted to second striker to support his erstwhile strike partner's goalscoring exploits. Gerrard's pace and direct running caused untold problems for opposing defences, which created space for Torres to run into. This partnership was one of Europe's most fruitful and most devastating at its' peak.
Lampard's game is drastically different with the crosses for headers, the long shots from lay-offs, the diagonal, searching long balls. He requires time to find spaces to drop into, and his late arrivals in the box gets him on the end of many a shooting opportunity.
There's no question what Torres was referring to when he called his Chelsea teammates "slow." And there's no question which supporting attacker he prefers.
At Liverpool, Torres was one of the best attacking headers of the ball. Chelsea have Drogba, John Terry and, to a certain extent, Branislav Ivanovic.
At Liverpool, Torres was one of the best dribblers of the ball. Chelsea have Mata, Sturridge, Malouda and Kalou.
Both of which mean that Chelsea have a whole host of match-winners that Liverpool, with their much highlighted lack of strength in depth, might not have had.
Both of which also mean that Chelsea do not rely as much on Torres as Liverpool once did.
Liverpool used to be called a two-man team, such was the importance of Gerrard and Torres to Benitez's side. Chelsea, by contrast, have not been afforded such a label.
If Torres doesn't perform at Chelsea, the simple and quick option is to throw on another match-winner in his place.
Lack of Sustained First-Team Action
With the number of options available to Andre Villas-Boas, he can afford to drop an off-form Torres.
The recent form of Drogba and the emergence of Sturridge have created a massive selection headache for the Chelsea manager when it comes to strike options.
While Torres would have been afforded all the time in the world by his adoring Liverpool public, he doesn't enjoy the same elevated status with the trigger-happy Abramovich and the impatient Chelsea fans.
As a consequence, he has been reduced to bench warmer status despite his price tag.
The last thing a misfiring striker needs is the bench. Just ask Andy Carroll, Torres' replacement at Liverpool.
The Result: Lack of Confidence
All the above factors combine and snowball into one giant avalanche of a lack of confidence for Fernando Torres.
This is painfully obvious.
He hesitates on the turn. He takes a second too long in his build-up play. He takes one touch too many.
So far, the Torres experiment has gone horribly wrong.
Spare a thought for the lad. He's become vilified at his old stomping ground, he's quickly being pushed to the sidelines at his new employers, and he's increasingly bandied about as one of the biggest transfer flops ever.
What a spectacular fall from grace.
Will Andre Villas-Boas be able to finally cure Torres of his ails, or will he have to resurrect his career at a new club?
Only time will tell, but Roman Abramovich's Chelsea is not particularly famous for giving people time.