Chelsea misfit Fernando Torres is edging closer to an exit after Italians Internazionale confirmed their interest in the Spaniard. Torres, who signed for a £50 million British record transfer from Liverpool in 2011, has struggled to recapture the form he enjoyed at Anfield and previous club Atlético Madrid and has been linked with a move away.
Inter general director Marco Fassone has confirmed that Torres is a target and that the Italians may make a formal approach during the summer. Fassone told Italian broadcaster Radio Deejay: “He is one of the names that interest us, as admitted by our president Erick Thohir in recent days.”
With the general consensus being that Torres is past his best, a move to Serie A where he would face more rigid defenses would seem counter intuitive to many. However, Inter will face stiff competition from Torres’ former club Atlético whose manager Diego Simeone has gone on record with his admiration for Torres. Simeone also holds the trump card in striker Diego Costa, who Chelsea have been heavily-linked with. It is understood Chelsea would be more tempted to agree a part exchange deal involving Torres and Costa than a straight cash deal for the former. Ironically, Brazilian-born Costa, will be competing with Torres for the striking berth at the World Cup finals in Brazil. Although many believe Torres will miss out on a place in the squad due to his poor club form, his international record has remained good.
Chelsea boss José Mourinho recently said he wanted the player to remain at Stamford Bridge despite bemoaning his lack of striking options and firepower. Torres, 30, has also stated that he remains committed to seeing out the last two years of his contract. Yet with Torres and Samuel Eto’o in their 30s, Mourinho may wish to cash in where he can so he can regenerate the squad. The good form of Demba Ba means the Senegal striker is now pushing for a starting spot at Chelsea while edging Torres and Eto’o closer toward the exit door.
Torres’ time at Chelsea chimes with that of Ukrainian Andriy Shevchenko, whose £30.8 million move from AC Milan in 2006 also turned into a disappointment. Shevchenko was coveted by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich due to the pair being old friends, while the Russian was also the one who actively pursued Torres. Chelsea fans have argued only continued to get playing time because Abramovich wanted to justify their signatures.
Despite scoring some important goals in the Champions League – most notably against Barcelona in the semi-final when Chelsea won the cup in 2012 – goals have been hard to come by for Torres. Just 19 league strikes in way over 100 matches is not the return Chelsea fans at hoped for. With Inter and Atlético openly talking up their chances of wooing the player to Italy or back to Spain, Torres is edging closer to the Stamford Bridge exit door. Whether a move away will give Torres a new lease of life or just provide one last stop before retirement remains to be seen.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd