On the final day of the La Liga season, Fernando Torres opened the scoring for his boyhood club with an acrobatic effort. It was the seventh time this season that El Nino scored the opening goal for Atlético Madrid. While that goal came too late to impact the title race, it may have been just enough to see Torres get what he’s always wanted - a new contract to see out his career with Atleti.
The in-form forward took to Twitter after the match to declare “Finishing La Liga the best way possible. Thanks fans for your unconditional support. See you in Milan."
Diego Simeone was questioned, not for the first time this season, about Torres’ future after that special goal. He admitted that “both parties are coming together,” before going on to add that he “will give [his] opinion so that the cub can decide what is best for them and the player.”
With Torres’ ever-improving form over the course of this season, the Champions League finalists could do worse than offer their former captain a new contract.
Subject to harsh criticism at Chelsea, Torres was not only adjusting to a new club but it came at a time when he had lost a yard of pace due to a number of injuries that he has never properly recovered from. With Torres stripped of his most important asset, he has been forced to remodel his game in a way that would work for both him and the players around him.
While he may not have been prolific in the league, Torres did still manage to score 45 goals in his four years at the club. Only Frank Lampard found the back of the net more times for Chelsea in that time with 48. It’s often overlooked, but Torres’ goalscoring feats were key for Chelsea when they won the Champions League and Europa League.
Torres’ career looked to be ending towards a sorry conclusion when he ended up at AC Milan after life at Stamford Bridge, but Simeone has since played a large role in helping his former teammate rediscover his best form for a number of seasons. He has taken some of the pressure off of Torres by playing him as part of a partnership with the formidable Antoine Griezmann rather than as an isolated centre forward. The gamble has paid off for both Atleti and Torres.
This is the first season since 2009/10 that Torres has scored 10 or more league goals. His last full season with Liverpool saw him score 18. In fact, Torres has scored more league goals this season (11) than he had in the last two seasons combined (9). Those three seasons covered three teams, each in a different league. He may just have needed some time to settle.
In April, El Nino scored in five consecutive matches — including the opening goal in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona. While he’s scored a lot of goals throughout his career, it’s the first time that he’s sustained a goalscoring run of that length.
His partner in crime, Griezmann, has been linked with a number of clubs in the build-up to the summer transfer window. Should Atletico decide to cash in on the Frenchman, Torres could serve as the perfect striker in a transitional phase up front. Combining his long history with the club with his new found role on the pitch, Torres could help ease the burden that will be placed on any striker the club may bring in to replace Griezmann.
His relationship with the club is a special one. Despite his own uncertain future, the Spaniard continues to put the needs of his team ahead of his own, although it has got the better of him on occasion, as was the case when he was sent off against Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final.
Torres was quoted in AS saying “there are conversations, and there is good will, which is important for me. But I continue to think that my own part is secondary. We have in front of us the game of our lives [the Champions League final this Saturday], but it is true we have started to talk, and I like that.”
It remains to be seen whether Torres’ potential wage demands could be a stumbling block for the Colchoneros, especially with China calling, but with no transfer fee involved, Torres’ current form and the experience he offers would outweigh any risks that could possibly accompany a new deal. Leicester set the narrative of fairytales this season, Torres should end up with one of his own.