2013/14 English Premier League
Regarded as one of the deadliest strikers in world football at his peak, Fernando Torres has faced criticism over a lack of form since 2010 but has still managed to add substantially to his silverware collection.
Appropriately for a player nicknamed El Nino ('The Kid'), Torres set tongues wagging from a very early age. After coming through the ranks at Atletico Madrid, he became the club's youngest ever player in May 2001 and was later installed as their youngest ever captain at the age of 19. However, despite his admirable loyalty over a period of six years, Torres was finally lured to Anfield in the summer of 2007 for a fee of around £21.5 million, just weeks after 'You'll Never Walk Alone' was seen inscribed on his captain's armband at Atleti.
Torres adapted seamlessly and scored 33 goals in his first season to surpass the tally set by Ruud van Nistelrooy to become the most prolific foreign debutant in English football. He maintained a hugely-impressive strike rate at Liverpool, but in 2010 suffered a dip in form as he struggled with injuries towards the end of the campaign. He won the World Cup with Spain that summer, but his own performance was hugely disappointing, and he sustained a further injury in the final.
Roy Hodgson replaced Rafa Benitez at Liverpool for the 2010-11 campaign, and Torres failed to perform amid suggestions his heart was no longer with the club, and just before the close of the 2011 January transfer window he requested a transfer.
On January 31, 2011, Torres became the fourth-most expensive player of all time when he moved to Stamford Bridge for £50 million, but he was unable to find any consistent form under Carlo Ancelotti and Andre Villas-Boas, and found himself playing second fiddle to Didier Drogba as the Blues clinched glory in the 2012 FA Cup and Champions League.
Nonetheless, he has shown glimpses of his old self, and he finished Golden Boot winner as Spain won Euro 2012.
Strengths: Torres has an eye for the spectacular and is capable of world-class skill, while he still has much of the pace that he boasted at his peak.
Weaknesses: Regular injuries and a loss of confidence have severely hindered Torres' career, and at times his goal-scoring instinct appears to have deserted him.
Career high: Scoring the winning goal in the Euro 2008 final against Germany as Spain ended their lengthy wait for a trophy on the international stage.
Career low: Torres said he was falling out of love with the game during the 2011-12 season, and his open-goal miss in the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in September was perhaps the nadir. The effort was recreated by computer game fans on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT5xNOUzcJk
Style: A technically proficient, highly successful striker.
Quotes: "When you talk about the Premier League you talk about a lot of players with quality so it is not easy to pick just one, but he is among the best." Rafael Benitez, September 2009.
Trivia: Torres actually started off as a goalkeeper in his early days but quickly became a formidable striker, being named the best Under-14 player in Europe following his performances at the 1998 Nike Cup.
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