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Fernando Torres & AC Milan: No Pressure
Fernando Torres has finally pulled the curtains on a forgettable Chelsea career that saw the Spanish international go through one of the sharpest decline in form a football player has experienced in modern times. And while the pacy forward might have won some trophies in his time with the London outfit, his overall contributions in Chelsea's European conquests of 2012 and 2013 can aptly be described as "negligible."
At the time Fernando Torres agreed to join Chelsea in 2011, he was one of the most coveted forwards in the world as his reputation for goal-scoring from Athletico Madrid and Liverpool preceded him. Little wonder Chelsea's willingness to meet Liverpool's humongous £50m price tag for the man in January of 2011, though a surprise to many, was not entirely unexpected.
Fast forward three years to 2014 and the story could not have ended any more sadly. Fernando Torres struggled to find form in a blue shirt week-in, week-out at Chelsea. As expectations of a return to his Liverpool form grew, the Spanish forward saw his form slump even further.
The pacy forward, not for a lack of trying, watched his game wane continually at Stamford bridge. He was consequently forced to play second fiddle to the likes of Didier Drogba in 2011 and 2012; and eventually to Samuel Eto'o in the 2013/14 season.
His exit from the London club was eminent as the 2013/14 season drew to a close, especially following Jose Mourinho's admission that it was impossible to win the premier league title because though he may have a team, he did not have a striker.
Before joining Chelsea, Fernando Torres scored 81 goals in 142 games for Liverpool. But in his time at Stamford bridge, he only managed to score 45 times in 172 games for the London side.
Was Fernando Torres a flop at Chelsea?
El Nino, as the Spanish world cup winner is often referred to, signed a 2-year loan deal for the Italian side, AC Milan, at the tail end of the 2014 summer transfer window. The deal is expected to see him through the remainder of his contract with Chelsea.
Unlike his entrance to Stamford Bridge that was met with fanfare and great expectation, his infusion into the Milan fold was more subtle; sort of like being sneaked in through a back door.
Fernando Torres was kept out of Milan's 5:4 victory away to Parma in what could have been his first game as a Milan player. He was forced to leave training the day before the Parma game because of a sprained ankle. The injured forward was, however, present during Milan's victory as he could be seen in the stands in a black suit looking unperturbed by the proceedings of the day.
Milan ended their 2013/14 campaign 8th in Serie A, with their top scorer, Mario Balotelli, managing only 14 goals. Balotelli has since moved back to the English premier league, and unlike the Italian, expectations from Fernando Torres is rather minimal as the Rossoneris are more delighted to have the Spaniard in their fold and are not placing any demands on their new man yet.
As it stands, Milan sits atop the Serie A with 2 wins in 2 games. The Rossoneris have had no problems finding the back of the net as their 8 goals makes them the team with the most goals scored in the league so far.
With Milan already averaging 4 goals per game and playing more attacking football this season under their new boss, Filipo Inzaghi, the pressures of scoring goals might have already been lifted off the Milan loanee, Fernando Torres.
Moving to the Serie A, to AC Milan might turn out to be all the distraction Torres needs to get his form and career back on track. While at Chelsea, the pressures of replicating his blistering form at Liverpool weighed heavily on the Spaniard's shoulders as he could often be seen trying too hard on the field.
Fernando Torres, who admitted to leaving Chelsea to "feel important again," has been presented the perfect opportunity to do just that at Milan. He now has the chance to play his own game for the first time in years after the unnecessary pressures of the huge £50 price-tag that came with playing for Chelsea in England has being lifted off him.
It now remains to be seen whether El Nino will seize the moment and recapture the form that made him the fancy of most of his peers or whether he will go down in history as one of the great enigmas of modern football.