As Didier Drogba stepped up to take what would be the final penalty in Chelsea's intense shoot-out against fellow finalists Bayern for the Champions League trophy, his cool placing of the ball into the back of the net exemplified the difference between his season and Fernando Torres's.
Torres, brought to Stamford Bridge on a £50million transfer from Liverpool, has felt the pressure of being the most expensive player in English football history since day one. Although a price tag as lofty as his should never be placed on an underdog, that is essentially what Torres became after a horrendous goal drought that saw him become little more than a joke among fans.
As Torres's star burned out more and more with each passing game veteran striker Drogba saw his rise, with his excellent season pushing the Spaniard onto the bench, where he mostly lingered right up until Chelsea's unexpected Champions League victory against Bayern. However, the lack of faith the club have had in him now seems to hit home, with him speaking out yesterday about Chelsea's alleged poor handling of him as a player.
“This season I felt things I had never felt,” he said. “I felt they have treated me in a way I was not expecting, not the manner for which the club brought me here. We have had many conversations and now the season’s finished we will have more talks to see what happens in the future because this is not the role for which I came and I’m not happy.
"The truth is I’ve gone through some very bad moments. The worst moments of my career during the season and I am not willing to relive those moments. There have been many ups and downs and many moments where I felt lost and I didn’t know what to do and where to be. I want to thank my family, the club’s owner who’s always supported me and backed me and, above all, the fans. If it wasn’t for the fans many times this season I would have thrown in the towel."
Torres, who scored 65 goals in 102 appearances for Liverpool, saw himself watching Chelsea's penalty shoot-out against Bayern from the sidelines: “I wanted to take a penalty but they didn’t let me,” he said. But no one can blame interim manager Roberto Di Matteo for his lack of faith in the striker's ability to maintain his composure in such an intense situation, considering his abysmal record of just 7 goals since his arrival at the club last January.
Torres also spoke of his disappointment with not making the starting 11 for the final, saying: “I felt huge disappointment when I saw the starting line-up, maybe the biggest disappointment of my life."
He was instead brought on as a substitute late in the game, similar to his arrival in the latter half of Chelsea's semi-final victory against Barcelona, a game in which he scored the winning goal. “What I was thinking when I came on was we had to win," he continued. "What we were lacking was attack. We were wrong to conform with 0-0 and they punished us with Müller’s goal. In the end, I was able to play a bit and help the team. I felt it’s one of my best moments.
“The ideal for me for next season is if someone tells me what’s going to happen. What role will I have in the team, what function is expected of me and to evaluate if it is worth it.”
It is unquestionable that the record-setting price tag placed upon Torres in his move to Chelsea has played a huge factor in his inability to perform. The pressure loaded onto the shoulders of the Spaniard to live up to his evaluated potential has seemingly been too much for him to handle, and if he were to request a move from the London club when the transfer window opens, he would undoubtedly do so for a sizeable cut in pay.
Although a quick move away from Chelsea could be perceived as him admitting defeat, a fresh start without the burden of living up to a remarkable salary could help him regain that which he lost in his departure from Liverpool. However, as Chelsea are looking set to confirm Drogba's free transfer to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua, this may be an opportunity for Torres to make his way off of the bench in order to join some fresh faces in attack, finally escaping from out of Ivorian's shadow.
Torres hinted towards his willingness to stay at Chelsea, saying: “I’m hoping I will be in it feeling better than ever and with greater desire than ever. Football is like that, many times when you feel at your best is when people count on you the least."
Header Image: Bleacher Report