Monday 11 December 2017

Torres leaping from sinking ship to flashy yacht

Chelsea's ruthless pursuit of success leaves little room for tradition, writes Dion Fanning

Dion Fanning

When Fernando Torres signed for Liverpool, he spent a weekend in a city centre hotel room devouring books and videos on the history of the club. He immediately understood Liverpool and its people.

Liverpool fans will joke -- when they are ready to joke again -- that he should be able to get through the Chelsea history books over a quick cup of coffee and a slice of toast.

The rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool might have been centred on the hostility that existed between Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez, but there were other factors too.

Chelsea always represented a certain Tory brashness, but that became more extreme when Roman Abramovich provided them with some new money. Chelsea could have anything they wanted and one of the first things they wanted was Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard. Liverpool resisted then, but this weekend they will find it more difficult to hang on to their totem.

Torres is not as emotionally fragile as Gerrard and he is unlikely to make the same U-turn, especially as he feels as if he is the wronged one, dealing with a raft of broken promises going back to last summer.

Now he is ready to leave with Chelsea offering more than £40m and throwing in the young forward Daniel Sturridge.

There were those close to the former managing director of Liverpool Christian Purslow who liked to call him "the Fernando Torres of finance". If the Fernando Torres of football leaves Liverpool tomorrow, they may have to start calling Purslow the Daniel Sturridge of finance.

Few men have wreaked such destruction on a club in such a short space of time as Purslow did in one year. Of course, he was helped by Tom Hicks and George Gillett, but Purslow arrived when Liverpool had finished second in the league. Within a year, he had sacked the manager who got them there, appointed Roy Hodgson and signed Joe Cole.

Reportedly a clause was added to Torres' contract which allowed him to leave if the money is right.

Chelsea will have to compete on those terms in the summer against clubs who offer a more vibrant future than they do. That is one of the reasons why they want a deal now and the clubs are privately discussing figures, even if Liverpool hold out hope that Torres changes his mind.

Even the players Torres is close to in the Liverpool dressing-room like Pepe Reina knew nothing about this move until late in the week.

It could be a switch that benefits everyone. Liverpool get money to rebuild for a player in his mid-20s who suffers from injuries. Torres gets to spend his peak years at a club that is in the Champions League (assuming they qualify this season) and Chelsea feel powerful once more.

Yet it might not work like that. Torres has handled the move disastrously. He had legitimate complaints about the club and felt he could no longer go on listening to promises, so there seems a desperation in his desire to leave now.

Liverpool's owners FSG are under pressure, even if Torres has taken the heat off them right now. They have signed Luis Suarez to play with Torres, and now they must find a replacement.

Chelsea will want to win the Champions League this season, that is Abramovich's aim, but beyond this season, they are a team that needs major reconstruction.

Torres' arrival at Chelsea can't be compared to the signature of Andriy Shevchenko, who was close to 30. But there are suggestions that he is an Abramovich signing rather than a player Ancelotti wants, although presumably the manager would like anybody who would help them move up the table.

Shevchenko was the last grandstand signing Abramovich made and if Chelsea is to conform to UEFA's regulations on financial fair play they will have to revert to self-sufficiency, which could leave Torres frustrated again.

Torres understood the working-class sensibility at Liverpool. They formed a special union, although it would have meant little without his world-class talent. When he scored against Blackburn days after the 20th anniversary of Hillsborough he pointed to the sky, demonstrating an understanding that wedded him to the supporters.

Since then, he feels let down. He will experience something different at Chelsea, something less. He will hope the compensation is success even if it looks unlikely with an ageing side. He is leaving a club with history but an uncertain future to join one that sees no point in harking after the past when there are glittering prizes to be acquired.

He isn't joining a football club, he is boarding a yacht.

Sunday Indo Sport

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