In July 2007, Fernando Torres joined Liverpool, smashing the clubs record transfer fee.
The Spaniard has been a reported target for the Merseyside team for a number of weeks prior to his move. Rafael Benitez eventually secured the signature of the youngster as he cut his summer vacation short to finalise a move to Anfield.
However, another team in North West England had their eye on the Spanish striker at the time.
Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson made attempts to sign the forward on several occasions, and Torres had been linked with a move to Old Trafford for several seasons before his move to Liverpool.
At the time, Atletico Madrid were either didn’t want to sell their prize asset, or the player felt he was too young and immature to make the move from La Liga to the Premier League.
When it came down to business, Benitez provided the Reds with a monumental advantage, simply because he is Spanish.
Fernando Torres was a huge loss for United. At the age of 25 and with just over two seasons played at Liverpool, he had already scored 60 goals for the club. However, as we all know, this was perhaps the peak of his Premier League career.
In my opinion, Torres’ biggest mistake was choosing to join Liverpool over Manchester United. Although, at the age of 23, this decision came at an early stage of time as a player, I believe it has become a career defining moment.
Torres adapted quickly to the Premier League following his move from Spain. After scoring his 24th league goal in the final game of his first season, a 2–0 win against Tottenham Hotspur, he set a new record for the most prolific foreign goal scorer in a debut season in England, eclipsing Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 23 goals.
His time at Liverpool finished with a return of 142 appearances and 81 goals.
In January 2011, Torres was the subject of a £40 million bid from Chelsea, which was rejected by Liverpool. He subsequently handed in an official transfer request, which was initially rejected.
On transfer deadline day, he eventually completed a move to Chelsea on a five-and-a-half-year contract, for a fee believed to be around £50 million. This set a new record for a British transfer and made him the sixth most expensive footballer in history.
In many people’s opinions, this is the stage in Torres’ career at which his reputation began to deteriorate. The Spaniard has endured a difficult time since his switch to Stamford Bridge. Although he did show glimpses of his previous form under interim boss Rafa Benitez, many fans will be concerned he will never be the same player.
Torres took 903 minutes before opening his account for the Blues, scoring in a 3-0 victory against West Ham. Since his arrival he has made 82 league appearances for Chelsea, scoring just 15 goals.
Aside from winning the Champions League with Chelsea and the World Cup and European Championships with Spain (sounds a crazy statement to make, I know) Torres’ time since his switch from Merseyside to London hasn’t been as successful as he would have hoped. At no point has been exhibited as the attacking talent he once was.
To be frank, had he moved to United all those years ago, he would not have been allowed to leave the club and more importantly, he wouldn’t have wanted to.
In any case, had he requested a transfer away from the club, United seem to follow a strong trend of avoiding selling key players to their domestic rivals, the transfers of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and David Beckham are all evidence of this. A move back to Spain would have been his only sensible option, considering his form at Atletico, this would not have done his career any harm.
Under the intuitive eye of Sir Alex, Torres would have reached the peak of his career at Old Trafford, and this level of performance would have been maintained through quality coaching and careful player management.
Stability is another important to consider. During his time at Anfield, the club experienced a dramatic change of management. A change that unsettled the club for a long period of time. Liverpool were no longer the Champions League winning side of 2005. Roy Hodgson failed to bring any success to the club during his brief spell in charge.
Then, under new boss Kenny Dalglish, the club soon became a mockery as the Scots transfer policy faced heavy scrutiny, following the overpriced signing of several players who failed to live up to their eventual cost. During the period Liverpool also lost a number of key players, including the likes of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano.
The offering of consistent Champions League action, and in some cases success, would have ensured his loyalty to the club, preventing a transfer in this situation. United have been involved in a number of strong European campaigns since 2007. They were victorious once in 2008 and came runners on two occasions during these years.
The lack of success at both domestic and continental level would have frustrated Torres at Anfield. Essentially his move to Chelsea came down to a lack of ambition from Liverpool’s behalf and the inability to win trophies.
I my honest opinion, had Fernando Torres chosen a switch to Manchester over Liverpool in 2007, his career would have taken a very different path. Although his CV looks fantastic, his performances on a personal level have certainly suffered because of certain transfer choices.
Had the Spaniard been offered stability and the full support of fans and back-room staff over the years, he would now be one of the deadliest frontmen on the planet.
I have no doubt he would have achieved all his current trophy successes, both for club and country, and more. At United he would have received this backing and he would now be a confident and more fruitful striker as a result.
So Fernando, your biggest mistake was choosing the wrong rival. Let this be a lesson to all in the future…