Fernando Torres may be considered a ‘£50 million flop’ by many Chelsea fans, but at his former club Atletico Madrid, he is still a hero.
The Spain international actually played his best football at Liverpool and Atletico achieved success after he left, but to the Spanish club’s supporters, he remains their endeared one.
Which is why during the unveilings of striker Mario Mandzukic and winger Antoine Griezmann, the fans chanted Torres’s name. They want the club to sign back the player who made his first-team debut as a teenager and went on to help them return to the Spanish top flight after two years in the Segunda Division.
Torres returning to Atletico could happen in the future but (probably) not now. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has said in no uncertain terms that the 30-year-old will not leave this summer amid reports that German club Wolfsburg are interested in the former Liverpool hero, while the Spanish champions’ president Enrique Cerezo has also dismissed any inclination towards making a move for the striker.
Things can always change very fast during the transfer period and Torres could well be shipped out of Stamford Bridge (although at the moment the chances of that happening are very small), but a return to Atletico would not be a good move for the striker.
As much as Torres was adored at Atletico during his younger days, he was under loads of pressure. And it was evident on occasions when he tried to do too much on his own, tried a dribble too many, lost possession and appeared frustrated. And he also missed some very good chances. It was at times too much for him.
Things have changed now at Atletico, who won La Liga last season for the first time since 1996. Los Rojiblancos are a (more) stable club now, have a truly brilliant coach in Diego Simeone and, despite losing some key players this summer, they are a side who can still compete thanks to the arrivals of Mandzukic and Griezmann among others.
However, Torres will once again find himself under pressure at Atletico – this time of a different sort. He will be expected to step up, hit the ground running and turn his fortunes around; no longer a top-class striker, he will find it incredibly hard.
Having won the league and reached the final of the Champions League last season, Atletico will hope for yet another successful campaign and expectations on Torres will be massive. At Chelsea, Torres is not under that kind of pressure; he has been largely ‘written off’ – whatever he gives to the team is a bonus.
True, Torres would get the love and affection at Atletico that he probably does not get at the moment, but will that be enough to make him recover some of his old class? Probably not.
That Torres will one day return to the club that formed him as a player is all but certain, but the time to do so is not now. Maybe in the future when expectations on him will not be much, he could go back for a season or not to finish his career where it all started.