Fernando Torres: Is There Any Way to Save His Career?

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJanuary 10, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 09:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea falls to his knees during the Capital One Cup Semi-Final first leg match between Chelsea and Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on January 9, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres may well have hit a new low on Wednesday night.

He was the surprise starter in the Blues' Capital One Cup semifinal first leg at Stamford Bridge, but another inept performance contributed to a now two-goal deficit for Rafa Benitez's side to overcome in South Wales.

A shrug of the shoulders here, a pulled face there. The Spaniard's body language told the whole story, and the deafening applause for Demba Ba's (frankly late) arrival gave us the fan's feeling in a nutshell.

Is there any way back for Torres?

Simply put, he is a bad fit at Chelsea.

If he wasn't a bad fit before, then the summer of 2012 certainly pushed him over the edge. The Blues loaded up on attacking midfield talent as Roman Abramovich chased the tiki-taka dream, recruiting Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marko Marin and Victor Moses to place alongside Juan Mata.

The resulting hybrid of "Mazacar" proceeded to play some absolutely scintillating football across the advanced midfield line, but lacked a genuine target in the box to finish off the chances.

Why? Torres was 20 yards from goal, eager to get involved in the silky, creative stuff.

The truth is, Torres has never been an 18-yard poacher like Darren Bent or Raul. When Torres was at Liverpool, 69 percent (56) of his goals came from defence-splitting through-balls (via LFCHistory.net). He was running onto and finishing most chances from deep.

It became clear from the third or fourth game this season, while Roberto Di Matteo was in charge, that it was a huge mistake to loan out Romelu Lukaku and place all faith in Torres.

Lukaku would have been the penalty-box presence Chelsea direly needed, but the rough edges he showed during the preseason tour of the U.S. suggested he needed regular football away from North London.

It's no surprise that negotiations with Ba initiated before the January transfer window even opened and no shock whatsoever to see the deal concluded in a swift fashion.

It was a risk to drop the Senegalese hitman after his two-goal debut against Southampton in the FA Cup, but Benitez will have been eager to see what kind of a reaction Torres would have to the new arrival.

The reaction, I'm afraid, tells the whole story.

For Torres to respond to pressure by looking exasperated and helpless for 80 minutes suggests his time at Chelsea is not going to get any better.

At times, it looks like he's scared to shoulder the responsibility of scoring the team's goals, at others it appears he's trying a false-nine tactic without telling anyone else the plan.

To see a player who is so out of sorts is unfortunate, but Torres has now made over 100 appearances for the Stamford Bridge out and has failed to convince the large majority of his worth.

The Demba Ba era has started in blue, and after him an almost like-for-like replacement will take over in the form of Lukaku.

No club will be stupid enough to bite on the Spaniard and "give him another shot," so it looks like the Blues will have to eat his wages for a good few years. Liverpool don't do returns, but Atletico Madrid might be an avenue to explore.

Whatever happens, he's surely all but finished at Chelsea.


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