World Class? Fernando Torres’ Liverpool purple patch aside, his career has been…

It’s not hard to understand why Fernando Torres is misty-eyed about the leaving of Liverpool.

They were his best days and it is doubtful at 30 that he will ever recapture those heights.

At Liverpool, he had everything a striker could want.

He had a manager who believed in him so much that he smashed the club’s transfer record to pay Atletico Madrid £26.5million to bring him to Anfield.

Rafa Benitez knew he had a special talent and built his Liverpool side around Torres to get the best out of him.

Torres was the tip of his 4-2-3-1 formation and the whole team was set up to supply Torres.

Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso would sit in midfield, allowing Steven Gerrard to bomb forward and link up with Torres, which he did to devastating effect during the Spaniard’s
first couple of seasons at Anfield.

Liverpool’s wide players, be they Yossi Benayoun, Jermaine Pennant or the various other wide boys Benitez tried and dispensed with, were also deployed to feed Torres.

With such supply lines, Torres was in his element and he bagged 24 Premier League goals in 33 games in his first season and then another 14 in 24 appearances when Liverpool finished second in 2009.

He managed 18 in 22 league games in season 2009-10, even though Benitez’s finest side was already starting to break up with Alonso having been sold to Real Madrid that summer.

Roman Abramovich clearly thought he would repeat this prolific form when he splashed out a British record £50million to bring him to Chelsea in January 2011.

Chelsea's Italian Manager Carlo Ancelotti (L) and new signing, Spanish striker Fernando Torres
£50million man: Abramovich spent big to secure the in-form Spaniard in 2011

But after netting 65 goals in his 102 league games for Liverpool, his paltry return of just 20 goals in 110 league matches says it all about his time at Stamford Bridge.

Torres has not been helped by Chelsea’s revolving door policy when it comes to managers, even if one of the brief incumbents was his pal Benitez.

However, his biggest problem at Chelsea was that although he was an Abramovich buy, he had to fit into Chelsea’s style of play rather than the Blues adjusting to suit him.

Didier Drogba was top dog at Chelsea and Torres had to play second fiddle to him.

He struggled to play alongside Drogba because they both wanted to lead the line and be the focal point of the team’s attacks.

Some coaches tried to accommodate him, but it is clear that Jose Mourinho will not and it would not be a huge surprise if he left this summer.

I have another theory on Torres and apart from his first three years at Liverpool, does he deserve to be called world class?

His goals-per-game ratio at Atletico was OK without being stunning, even taking into account the fact he played for them from such a young age.

He had gone off the boil in his final 12 months at Anfield and spent the last six sulking that he did not move in the summer of 2010 when Benitez went.

The statistics bear this out and he managed just nine goals in 23 league games in season 2010-11 for Liverpool.

Certainly, his achievements for Liverpool have been overshadowed by those of Luis Suarez.

Perhaps he is a footballing Sandy Lyle, someone who had great success during the most purple of purple patches, but who has been pretty average for the rest of his career.

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