Torres still one of the best - Benayoun
Published 16/02/2013 | 08:11
Yossi Benayoun believes "the real Fernando Torres" will emerge once the misfiring Chelsea striker puts his recent dry run in front of goal behind him.
Torres has one goal in 13 matches after Thursday night's Europa League last-32 first-leg 1-0 win at Sparta Prague. While many Chelsea supporters have lost faith in Torres, Benayoun, like interim manager Rafael Benitez, has backed his former Liverpool colleague.
He said: "For me, he is still one of the best strikers in the world. He just needs to believe in himself. It would be good to get his confidence back and be his old self. Hopefully he will get a few more soon and you will see the real Fernando Torres."
He added: "You can understand it is not easy, from being the top striker at Liverpool - he was unbelievable, you gave him the ball and you knew he would score.
"But he had a bad time in the beginning at Chelsea. When he came in, he was on the bench, then on the pitch. He did not get the confidence when he came in. And with the £50million above his head, it is not easy for any player."
Like Torres, Benayoun has struggled to reach the same heights since moving from Anfield to west London, and he added: "You do not change so quick from being the best player, one of the best in the world, to a player that some people say is not good enough for Chelsea.
"He has had good spells, bad spells, and has 15 or 16 goals already. That is not bad, but hopefully he will finish with 25."
In three and a half years at Liverpool, after being signed from Atletico Madrid by Benitez for a fee of £20m, Torres scored 81 goals in 142 matches before moving to Stamford Bridge on the final day of the 2011 winter transfer window for £50m on a five-and-a-half-year deal.
He has scored 25 goals in 134 appearances for Chelsea - 15 of them this term. Torres netted seven times in six games in December, but his only goal since was the equaliser which forced Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round replay with Brentford.
Benitez has praised Torres' work-rate and attributed his barren streak to the role he has to perform as a lone striker, but the Spain international could be removed from the firing line for the Brentford encounter, with Demba Ba and Victor Moses available.