It remains one of the most hotly discussed topics in modern football to this day: what happened to Fernando Torres, the man who lit up Anfield, when he left?
The Golden Child of Atletico Madrid, “El Nino”, Fernando Torres touched down in 2007 as one of the hottest prospects in world football.
Now, we understand managers often churn out the same generic spiel when a new player arrives, so fans would be forgiven for being a little sceptical when Rafael Benitez spoke so highly of this new and exciting prospect he had brought in to wear the famous number nine shirt.
”He has experience,” said the former Liverpool boss (quotes sourced by BBC Sport). “He was playing in the first division at 17 years old and I think he can manage the pressure.
“He knows he will be an important player and I’m sure the staff and other players will help him.
“He has power, pace, is good in the air, scores goals, can dribble and do a lot of things. The kind of striker he is different to the other strikers we have at the moment.”
Ticks a couple of boxes, doesn’t it?
Well, on this occasion, the man who signed the likes of Alberto Aquilani and Milan Jovanovic was absolutely right. He was beyond right, in fact – whatever that means. Torres was sensational. We actually tend to forget about just how good certain players were, especially when they slip into relative obscurity like Torres did. But when you take a moment out to refresh your memory via the means of a handy YouTube highlight reel, you’re reminded of just how special they once were.
In the 102 Premier League games he played for Liverpool Torres netted 65 goals in total and proved to be every bit as powerful, quick, capable in the air and skilful as Benitez had originally said. But it all came crashing down in the most fantastic of ways.
A British record £50 million was enough to seal a move to Premier League rivals Chelsea (as per ESPN) and should have marked the end of the competition as we knew it. A unification of arguably one of the best strikers in the country and one of the strongest competitors in the League, who had dominated for the past decade – it hardly seemed fair. However, concerns were quickly dispelled as Torres went on a baron period of 14 league appearances without a single goal. The flop was well and truly on.
Despite helping Chelsea to the Champions League in 2012 scoring one of the most iconic goals in modern European history, which we’re sure Gary Neville will attest to, the Spaniard’s domestic form wasn’t enough to earn him a long-term place at Stamford Bridge. After just three years with the club, his time was over. We were, at last, spared moments of conjecture wondering when, or if, he was ever going to be the same again.
A move to AC Milan was swiftly followed by a return to Atletico Madrid – who surely out of charity wanted to give the old dog one last chance.
We suspect it was more sentiment than goals that kept Torres in Spain between 2016 and 2018, and after notching just 5 times in 27 league appearances in 2018 he announced his intention to leave (via Sky Sports), joining J-1 League side Sagan Tosu.
An anonymous end to an incredibly special career in football.