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Fernando Torres' Liverpool exit, Chelsea record transfer and where it went wrong


Take a look at some of the legendary strikers who have passed through the doors of Anfield in a Liverpool shirt and the list will be lengthy.

Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen. You name it, there is a striker for every era at the Merseyside striker.

And yet, even considering the status of those strikers, it was Fernando Torres who snatched the record of being the fastest Liverpool player to score 50 league goals.

For the best part three seasons, Torres — nicknamed ‘El Nino’ for his youthful facial features — was regarded as one of the most lethal strikers in the world.



Fernando Torres was worshipped at Liverpool after joining the club in 2007
Fernando Torres was worshipped at Liverpool after joining the club in 2007

Signed by Rafa Benitez for £26m from Atletico Madrid on this day 14 years ago, he wasted no time in acclimatising to the physical nature of the Premier League.

The Spaniard had already boasted a stellar reputation in football after appearing for his country at international level. But it was in the 18 months leading up to Euro 2008 where his form truly exploded.

In his first season in England, Torres bagged an impressive total of 24 goals in 33 games, notching 33 goals in all competitions, and he was named Player of the Year by the club’s fans.

With Torres leading the line, Liverpool had a genuine chance of knocking Manchester United off the top of the Premier League.

His second season was somewhat less prolific, with only 14 goals in 24 games, as Torres struggled to shrug off injuries which were becoming more commonplace.

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Fernando Torres was the fastest player to reach 50 goals for Liverpool
Fernando Torres was the fastest player to reach 50 goals for Liverpool

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The Reds would narrowly miss out on the league title, finishing four points adrift on Man United and a 7-5 aggregate defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League ended their run in the competition at the quarter-final stage.

Still, it was Torres who was Liverpool’s star, along with Steven Gerrard leading from the midfield.

The pair struck up almost a telepathic relationship and they ran riot in a memorable 4-1 victory at Old Trafford, with Torres tormenting the United defence and one player in particular: Nemanja Vidic.

The central defender’s imperious presence at the back cemented his status as one of the world’s best, but Torres often found a way to make the Serbian look foolish with his combination of blistering pace and intelligent movement.

“Torres was a top player,” he said. “At the time, he was probably the best striker in the league. He scored a few goals against United.

“In the Premier League, I had some good games against [Didier] Drogba, sometimes bad.



Nemanja Vidic described Fernando Torres as one of his toughest opponents
Nemanja Vidic described Fernando Torres as one of his toughest opponents

“I played well against Torres one week, then one game bad, that’s the Premier League. You’re not going to be on top of your game every week.”

But eventually, injuries took their toll on Torres and when he underwent knee surgery in April 2010, the player who defenders often dreaded facing ended up frustrated on the sidelines.

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There were concerns over his long-term future, despite signing a new contract in 2009, amid reported interest from Chelsea. Echoing new boss Roy Hodgson’s comments, the striker reaffirmed his commitment to the club August 2010.

“My commitment and loyalty to the club and to the fans is the same as it was on my first day when I signed,” Torres said.



Fernando Torres was struggled with injuries in his final months at Liverpool
Fernando Torres was struggled with injuries in his final months at Liverpool

Just five months later, he was gone. Chelsea’s persistent interest had unsettled the striker and after lodging a then-British record £50m bid, Liverpool accepted with gritted teeth and he became the Blues’ record signing in January 2011 on transfer deadline day.

It was a huge win for Roman Abramovich, who had been searching for another star signing to replace Andriy Shevchenko at Stamford Bridge.

But with reports suggesting Carlo Ancelotti had wanted to sign Sergio Aguero instead, there was already friction before he had made his debut.

Those expecting Torres to repeat his electrifying form at Liverpool were badly mistaken.

The 27-year-old struggled badly to adapt to his new club and having gone 903 minutes without scoring, he finally broke his duck against West Ham in April. That would be his only goal for the rest of the season.



Fernando Torres moved to Chelsea for £50million but struggled at Stamford Bridge
Fernando Torres moved to Chelsea for £50million but struggled at Stamford Bridge

Liverpool fans had revelled in watching their former hero endure more misery in London after feeling betrayed by his decision to depart the club for one of their fiercest rivals.

But the capture of Luis Suarez was proving to be a sound piece of business and it was not long before ironic cheers were aimed towards Torres as the situation worsened.

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The arrival of Andre Villas-Boas as Chelsea’s new boss gave Torres more opportunities up front as Didier Drogba was left on the bench.

But when the Portuguese head coach was sacked after just eight months, Roberto Di Matteo reinstalled the Ivorian as his first-choice striker, with Torres reduced to his role as impact substitute.



Fernando Torres' goal sent Chelsea to the 2011-12 Champions League final
Fernando Torres’ goal sent Chelsea to the 2011-12 Champions League final

He had failed to rediscover the same form that saw him achieve iconic status at Anfield, although his solo goal against Barcelona — which helped Chelsea reach the Champions League final and win the trophy — will forever be remembered by Blues fans.

Torres saw his opportunities limited under Jose Mourinho and he headed to AC Milan and then back to Atletico Madrid on loan before leaving on a free transfer in June 2016.

The Spanish giants were ecstatic to have one of their most heralded players back at the club for two seasons, even if he struggled to provide the same goals as he had in his first spell at the club.

After helping Atleti win the Europa League in 2017-18, he departed for a new challenge and a big payday in Japan with Sagan Tosu before hanging up his boots in 2019.



Fernando Torres hung up his boots in 2019
Fernando Torres hung up his boots in 2019

More recently, Torres had been gathering experience coaching with Atletico’s B side before leaving the role in February. His once slight body shape has been replaced with a bulky and muscular frame after posting pictures on social media earlier this year.

Reports that the former striker, now 37, was set to make a return to football were inaccurate but he could soon line up in the dugout if he continues on his path to coaching.

And with some luck, he may return to the stadium where he made so many memories as a manager — albeit with a hostile reception from the Liverpool fans still reeling from his controversial exit.





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