Fernando Torres is now, officially, yesterday's man, as he quietly unspools his final days in Japan.
Out of sight but, not, it would seem, entirely out of mind. For all of his iridescent brilliance with Spain, Atleti and Liverpool, Torres has become a reference point for the Superstar Player Who Began At His Decline At One Big Club Only To Continue It At Another When The Assumption Was That The Change Of Clubs Would End Said Decline. (Or something slightly more catchy).
Writing his Telegraph column today, Jamie Carragher uses the example of Torres to illustrate the ongoing travails of Alexis Sanchez at Man United. The Chilean has scored endured a wretched start to the season, having been thoroughly unconvincing in his final few months at Arsenal.
Carragher believes Alexis' current form is no aberration, and says that United's highest-earner is in terminal decline, comparing the sheer amount of football he has played to this point with Torres' accumulated workload by the time the Spanish striker left Liverpool.
While there was much caviling from Liverpool fans at the sale of Torres to Chelsea for £50 million in January 2011 (quickly forgotten when they realised Luis Suarez was coming through the door), the Liverpool players were startled that Chelsea spent so much on Torres, given his slump in form.
When Chelsea bid £50 million for Torres in January 2011, there was consternation among Liverpool supporters. Although we could never state it publicly, there was general astonishment in our dressing room. We thought Chelsea had not been watching him for the previous 12 months.
We knew Chelsea did not sign the player they thought. They bought a striker who - aged 26 - had already played 468 games, had not had a summer off for the previous three years and was constantly trying to repair his body.
Torres started to have a hamstring problem during the 2008-'09 season, and also suffered an ankle injury as we finished runners-up to Manchester United. The following season he had a groin and a knee issue and was a shadow of himself, despite still regularly scoring goals. Beyond Merseyside, no one seemed to notice, attributing poor displays to a struggling team. In training, we could see there was more to it.
Sanchez is on the bench against Chelsea today.
The full column can be read on the Telegraph website.
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