x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Champions League is the goal for Torres

Striker believes it was in the best interests of both sides to switch Liverpool for Chelsea.

Fernando Torres has made the move from Liverpool's Merseyside to London.
Fernando Torres has made the move from Liverpool's Merseyside to London.

LONDON // Liverpool were right to sell Fernando Torres. He will tell them that himself.

Seated before more journalists than Chelsea's briefing room has ever seen, Torres suited his "El Nino" moniker. He looked younger than his 26 years; then he began talking with all the focus and power of "El Nino" the storm-bringer.

This is no boy. Nor is he a man to hide behind platitudes, or dodge difficult questions. Torres believes he was correct to leave Anfield for the opportunities and riches of Chelsea. Not just for his own career, but for the club he left breathing fumes of ignited No 9 shirts.

"I'm sure it was the best option for both," he said. "Probably I wasn't playing in the same way because I was getting a big disappointment with everything that happened with the sale [of Liverpool] and with all of these things.

"I'm sure they have spent the money really well. In [Andy] Carroll and [Luis] Suarez, they have two great players who are going to do a good job like me, or better than me, and still they have money to buy some more players for next season. But it's not just for the money, because there is no reason to keep a player who wants to leave."

Torres wanted to leave that badly. Chelsea inquired about his availability last summer but were stymied by Liverpool's former owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. They knew that no one brought more commercial revenue to the club than Torres and wanted him on the asset sheet to flatter the bottom line when they sold their shares of the club. "I helped the sale process as well," Torres said tartly.

It was hardly a strategy to endear themselves to a striker who had been unsettled by Xabi Alonso's sale to Real Madrid in 2009 and further disillusioned by Javier Mascherano's sale to Barcelona last summer. The arrival of Roy Hodgson as manager did nothing to allay Torres's concerns.

"Maybe we never understood what Hodgson wanted or Hodgson never understood us," he said.

"You know sometimes other people feel they have to change something in their lives. You go to the training ground and you're thinking: 'I'm not feeling the same as I did normally.' I needed a new challenge, new opportunity. And one day one of the best teams in the country want you.

"So it was really easy to think about that: 'I cannot lose this opportunity, I have to join them.' And they proved that they wanted me."

By Torres's account, Chelsea resumed their pursuit of him in the second last week of the transfer window. He immediately asked Liverpool's new owners to facilitate the move.

Chelsea's first offer of a fee was posted the following Tuesday and quickly knocked back. By Thursday, Liverpool had issued a statement rejecting an improved £35 million (Dh206.5m) bid while discreetly floating the idea that £50m was the asking price.

Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, did not want to go that high and Monday's deadline day arrived with Torres unsure whether the switch would go through.

Having already requested a transfer, he arrived at the club's Melwood training centre with advisers and lawyers. Instead of joining his teammates on the pitches, Torres nervously paced the corridors.

"It was a really hard day and a very difficult day because everything was done close to 11pm," he said. "I didn't know if I would be a Chelsea or Liverpool player. Everything was until the last minute. Probably one of the worst days in my life, but with a happy end."

Now fully motivated and, according to Carlo Ancelotti, fully fit, Torres plans to address his form, which he conceded was not up to expectations. He has spent much of his first days at Chelsea talking to Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka "because I want to understand the way they play as soon as possible and be involved". His new manager plans to start him this afternoon in a system designed to extract the best from all three.

Then begins the quest to add club success to the European Championship and World Cup trophies won in recent summers. For all the vicious beauty of Torres's football, his club successes amount to just one Spanish Segunda Division title with Atletico Madrid. Asking if he has something to prove is the only question that raised a temper.

"I have nothing to prove," he said. "I only want to win trophies in my club. I would like to win the Champions League, the Premier League, all the trophies if I have the chance. But the Champions League has always been a big motivation and I would like to have a picture with that."

 

sports@thenational.ae