As Torres watched his looping header float gracefully into the Empoli goal on September 23, there was a sense of great relief that descended on the Spaniard.
After all of his difficulties at Chelsea, the 30-year-old Blues had netted just 57 minutes into his Milan career. Maybe, just maybe, things were finally looking up for him.
Tutto Mercato Web remarked that the ex-Liverpool man’s finish was reminiscent of ‘the old Torres’. Meanwhile, Rossoneri boss Pippo Inzaghi singled him out for praise in his post-match comments.
But the promise of the moment has been followed by a bit of bleakness. Torres has started both of Milan’s games since – against minnows Cesena and Chievo – but has looked out of sorts.
On Saturday the Spaniard struggled mightily to have an impact against the Flying Donkeys, cutting a forlorn figure up front even as his side dominated proceedings.
Despite Milan seeing 67% of the possession, Torres managed just 26 touches in 74 minutes of work. For some context, consider that his replacement – Stephan El Shaarawy – touched the ball 18 times in just over a quarter-hour of play.
In the words of Italian outlet Calcio Mercato, Torres looked as if ‘he had landed on an alien planet: impalpable, out of the game, a foreign body that failed to enhance the quality of the squad’.
Whilst this description may seem slightly overcooked, Torres’ malaise throughout the match was quite noticeable. He appeared well and truly out of sync with the rest of the side, even as the Rossoneri’s supporting attack trident of Keisuke Honda, Giacomo Bonaventura and Jeremy Menez played well.
Inzaghi now has a decision to make on how to proceed with Torres going forward. Milan have looked far more fluid up front this term playing with a false nine outside of the Spaniard’s solid showing against Empoli last month.
Two anonymous performances aren’t necessarily cause for Inzaghi to lose patience with Torres, but serve as a reminder that the 30-year-old has plenty to prove at San Siro.
Young, dynamic forwards El Shaarawy and M’Baye Niang – along with veteran striker Giampaolo Pazzini – have been forced to take a back seat with Torres in the line-up.
With these other options at his disposal, Inzaghi will eventually be inclined to turn away from the Chelsea-owned hit man should he continue to falter.
Of course, it’s still early days for Torres in his Italian adventure. However, if he hopes to leave a different legacy in Milan to that in west London, he’ll need to adapt fast.
Few know better than Torres how quickly things can go awry when a striker doesn’t meet expectations, and he’ll be keen to relieve the mounting pressure sooner rather than later.