By now, we've all seen the quotes*. While the initial reaction was one of shock, I'd imagine by now they've had a little bit of time to sink in. Fernando Torres is clearly not happy being second fiddle. He's not paid to be second fiddle. The fans have been ridiculously patient with this guy (for the most part), but even the most patient fans will likely start to get antsy if Drogba leaves and we still get next to nothing out of Torres. The club is going to have a very interesting situation to deal with this summer, so today might be a good time to take a look at what options the team might have available to them.
*I hope in the future we can all learn one thing from this...If something really touches a nerve for you, take some time and reflect on comments like this before hitting post.
First and foremost, I'll give you my take on the Torres quotes. He's clearly not happy with being second choice here, and I'd be disappointed if he was. He seems open to either staying or moving depending on what the club tells him his role going forward will be. While nothing in the quotes implies this, I'd have to assume he realizes he'll be taking a pay cut to move anywhere, as even he must realize that even clubs like PSG and Anzhi will not match his current wages with his current form. Despite the generally poor timing of the interview from a fan's perspective (I'm sure the paper and interviewer both feel the opposite), his quotes were actually very telling about what he feels after a very rough second season with the club. All in all, I'm not actually upset with what he had to say, but I do feel a little more informed about what our summer might entail now.
Let's take a look at the current players we have at center forward who are under contract for next season. Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou are both out of contract, and I'm personally operating under the assumption that they've both played their last game in blue. Because of that, neither one should be counted on at the moment to a greater extent than any other player on the transfer market. While they both have strong ties to the Blues, neither is currently a Chelsea player and both will get lucrative offers from abroad.
So without those two, who else do we have that can play in the center of the attack? At the current time we have a group consisting of Torres, Daniel Sturridge, And the U21 trio of Romelu Lukaku, Patrick Bamford, and Adam Phillip. There's a lot of talent there on the whole, but I'm not overly comfortable with that group in a season where we're likely to play upwards of 60 fixtures. It's been a while since we went into a season without at least two starting caliber center forwards on the books, although in most seasons one of them would be capable of slotting in elsewhere when Drogba was playing.
Regardless of whether or not we keep Torres then, we're certainly going to have to add at least one player to the mix that is capable of playing center forward. We have a lot of options available in how to go about doing this, so I'm going to break them down in bullet point form. First, let's look at the options available to us if we decide it's worth it to keep Torres around:
- Leave things as is - Torres and Sturridge will likely be very happy, and we'd certainly give the youth a chance this way. Should Torres or Sturridge suffer an injury, this would be an awfully big risk.
- Buy a world class center forward in their prime- This seems to be the most popular choice around these parts, as there are three names that really seem to catch everyone's eye. Radamel Falcao, Edison Cavani, and Gonzalo Higuain all seem to be guys that we can reasonably expect to find a new home this summer. They'd all be expensive, and they'd all relegate Torres to the bench more often than not unless his form improves greatly. Torres might not be happy, but Chelsea would clearly be a better team than they are today.
- Resign Drogba - We've seen how this played out over the past year, and there's no reason to think it would be any different next season. We should all have a clear idea of what this would look like.
- Sign a smaller name center forward - I'm thinking of names like Wilfried Bony or Loic Remy here. Lot's of guys could fit this mold, and I imagine we all have our personal preferences. While this would leave us more questions at the position than a Falcao would, it certainly would be cheaper and allow us to go younger should we so choose. Fernando would probably approve of this as well. For what it's worth, I believe this the way to go this summer.
- Sign someone versatile who can slot into the center - I'm thinking of guys like Jovetic and Hulk here, players who would see regular time at a position other than center forward but who could also fill in there if needed. Resigning Kalou would fit here as well. We have that type of player with Daniel Sturridge, but having more versatile players is never a bad thing. While I've said a guy like Bony would be the way I'd deal with Torres, I still want some more versatility.
Now let's look at what we could reasonably do should we decide to move Torres elsewhere. This would leave a pretty huge hole in the center, and we'd almost certainly fill it with one of the big names:
- Sign a world class center forward in their prime - This would seem to be the obvious answer. I doubt anyone would feel comfortable with Daniel Sturridge atop the depth chart next season. This would still leave us looking for depth, but that almost certainly would come in the form a a pure backup or a versatile forward like Hulk with this type of buy.
- Sign a stop-gap type player - I hate to include Didier Drogba in this, but he'd certainly fit. Diego Forlan is a guy that would fit this mold as well. This solution would certainly require us signing a smaller name capable of playing the position as well, whether that be a versatile forward or a pure center forward like Bony. This type of signing certainly wouldn't scare a young center forward such as Bony off, where signing a Cavani just might.
As disappointing as he's been, Torres has still proven to be a useful backup for this club. Selling him will create a hole that needs to be filled, and despite your anger at his comments this really does need to be considered. He'd have to be pretty terrible for his value to decrease going forward, and any semi-proven and decent backup will still cost 8 figures or more.
In the end, what we do is likely going to come down to the type of offers we can get for Torres. The 'Swap" is a popular answer, but realistically it's not likely to result in us getting much for Torres. We'll likely be better off just selling him to a Malaga or PSG should we decide to go that route and then spend the money we get from the sale. That said, I think my answer at this point would be to keep him and reinforce the depth behind him. As frustrating as Fernando can be, if we don't keep Drogba around we'll have to invest way too many resources into that position for my liking by replacing him. We have plenty of holes as it is, there really isn't too much reason to create another in what's going to be a very busy summer.
Use the comments section to discuss away, but keep one thing in mind. I wasn't the happiest when I got home and read over the last Torres thread, this one WILL NOT turn into that sort of thread all over again. Think about what you are writing before you hit post. You've been warned...