Fernando Torres has gone to Chelsea.
It’s a strange thing to read, especially for a Liverpool fan. It is certainly the biggest event, transfer-wise, to have occurred within my two decades or so of Liverpool fandom, and the general reaction of the fans towards our ex-best player (let’s face it, he was) seems to be one of overriding animosity. This hostility is not so much because Torres wanted to leave Liverpool, but more due to the timing and destination of his eventual departure. However, while these two factors do, at first, seem completely justified reasons for bitterness, my resentment towards Torres does not in fact stem from either of these, but with his conduct on the pitch at the back end of his Liverpool career.
Yes, it is true that the timing of his transfer request could not have been much worse for Liverpool Football Club – it left us with approximately 48 hours to negotiate an appropriately obscene sum with Chelsea (which I think was done very successfully), and to identify and acquire an adequate replacement at a time when players are significantly overpriced. And as a result we ended up paying thirty five million pounds sterling for an injured player with precisely six fairly good, if unexceptional, months of top-flight experience in his career. Gracias, Nando. However, I find it difficult to see this as something we should blame the player himself for. Chelsea made their move for Torres (thus informing him of their consolidated interest) towards the end of the transfer window for good reasons – to force Liverpool’s hand somewhat, as well as to make their bid at a time when they could be absolutely sure there would be no bidding war with fellow Torres-seducers Manchester City, whose marquee acquisition had been to bring in Edin Dzeko a week or so earlier. As soon as the bid was lodged, Torres handed in his transfer request, and the unthinkable soon became the inevitable. It was a painful couple of days, but the poor timing of it isn’t something I necessarily pin on the player.
But, as every Liverpool fan will have lamented, why them? Why, Nando, could you not at least have shown us the respect and graciousness of moving abroad, like McManaman, Owen and Rush? Why go to Chelsea, the club that almost perfectly typifies the exact antithesis of all that Liverpool fans (rightly or wrongly) see their club to stand for – a club with no real ‘history’, no matchday atmosphere, and who conduct themselves both on and off the pitch with all the class and dignity of a night out with Andy Carroll? Well, I would ask, were his options really as numerous as his talent might suggest? A move to Real Madrid is pretty much unthinkable for both parties considering his footballing upbringing, and Inter Milan have never been known to lodge any concrete interest in the player. Could Barcelona or AC Milan fit him anywhere into their already star-studded and well-refined front lines? Highly unlikely. And a move to the Bundesliga would not have done Torres’ talent (or ego) justice, regardless of the fact there was no apparent interest from Germany. (Plus, if Torres and Robben were to reside in the same city, Munich may well need to be quarantined due to the potentially hazardous levels of oestrogen in the atmosphere). So his options seemed very limited; in the end limited to one. And, I would argue, £50 million for a soon to be 27-year-old player who fits the Owen-esque ‘pacey striker with history of hamstring injuries’ bracket – let alone did not want to be at Anfield – seems a fine price to me.
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