If you think of ‘El Niño’ as the striker who flopped during the latter stages of his career, then read on – for we mustn’t forget that he was arguably the best striker on the planet during his peak years in front of that Anfield crowd.
Fernando Torres’ name has come under harsh criticism by a number of fans across the footballing scene for his post-Liverpool stints with the likes of Chelsea, AC Milan and a return to Atletico Madrid before finishing his career in Japan with Sagan Tosu to cap everything off.
Even though he did have some pretty decent moments for most of those employers!
But before that infamous £50million move to Chelsea on the 2011 January transfer Deadline Day, the Spaniard was one of the most feared strikers that the Premier League had to offer, and this reflected with his free-scoring form across his four-year spell in Merseyside.
Torres arrived at Anfield from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2007, joining a Liverpool side with a host of talent, particularly in the midfield area, and it would not take Torres long to become affiliated with the Liverpool fanbase.
Under Rafa Benitez’s tutorship, Torres blossomed and would open his account as a Red in a 1-1 draw against fellow title contenders Chelsea before sending Reading backing out of the League Cup after scoring his first hattrick.
Torres would continue to torment defences across the league as he was named as the Premier League’s Player of the Month in February and was also able to break a considerable number of records along the way which were originally held by some of the club’s greatest ever striker names.
For his efforts, Fernando Torres also made the shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and was named to the PFA Team of the Year, finishing the campaign with a remarkable 24 goals which tied him for second place in the season scoring charts with only Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of him.
After an incredible debut campaign in the topflight, it came as no surprise that Torres would be selected as a part of Spain’s 2008 World Cup winning squad where he played alongside David Villa in a legendary strike partnership, with Torres being named as Man of the Match in their World Cup final victory over the Netherlands.
His second campaign back in England was just as impressive as his first but it was one that saw the Spainard marred by injuries with new arrival Robbie Keane struggling to replicate any sort of form that he provided for Spurs.
When Fernando Torres made his return from injury, he picked up exactly where he left off with a number of spectacular performances with his best arguably being in a famous 4-1 away victory against bitter rivals Manchester United, who were coming off the back of winning both the Premier League and Champions League the year before …
… certainly a game that we will look back upon at a future date.
Fernando Torres capped off his season with a tremendous strike against Blackburn Rovers on the final day of the season, and despite the nagging injuries, he still scored 14 goals in just 24 games that season which once again earned him a spot in the PFA Team of the Year.
In his third campaign, Torres would only play 22 games but scored an unprecedented 18 goals in the league that also saw him tout up his first Premier League hattrick in a 6-1 thumping over Hull City in September, which unsurprisingly earned him the Player of the Month award.
He also became the fastest player in the club’s history to reach 50 league goals but would miss the rest of the season with another injury in April.
Following on from these three immaculate seasons with the Reds, both Torres and Liverpool’s performances took a substantial dip the next year, and that is mainly inclined to Benitez’s departure in the summer with Roy Hodgson being named as his successor.
We all know the difficulties that Hodgson faced during his short spell as Liverpool manager that was mainly capped off with a 2-0 Derby Day defeat to Everton at Goodison Park, with a now dark-haired Fernando Torres also looking likely to be heading out of Anfield.
Much to the chagrin of fans at the time who longed for the times of old …
But not at least without making a major splash in the market in order to facilitate such a move.
After making the aforementioned £50million deadline day move to Chelsea, Torres struggled throughout his entire spell at the Bridge and would only score once during his first 14 league games as a Chelsea player.
That’s not to say that he did not enjoy some success along the way as in the following season Torres scored a now notorious brace against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League semi-final, that left Gary Neville in complete limbs on commentary, with Chelsea later winning the final in Munich thanks in large part to Didier Drogba.
His career completely fell off the scales after his unbelievable spell at Anfield, but when ‘El Niño’ was at his very best, not even the very best Premier League defenders could possibly contain him.
To this day, I struggle to think of many that could rival the talents of an in-form, in-prime Fernando Torres.