I’m no traitor, says Fernando Torres with regards to his move from Liverpool to Chelsea, upon his official transfer request, during the January transfer window of 2011.
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Speaking to Simon Hughes for the author’s new book, “Ring of Fire: Liverpool FC into the 21st Century – the players’ stories,” Torres has given his version of the events that transpired and ultimately resulted in the two-time European and 2014 world champion trading red for blue in a then-record deal for a British club ($65 million).
Torres has been portrayed as the want-away villain in the years since his contentious move from Anfield to Stamford Bridge, but the now-32-year-old Spanish striker says his hand was forced when a new ownership group wanted to freshen up the squad with younger players and build for the club’s long-term future, rather than aim to win right away. That’s something Torres couldn’t stand for, because he didn’t have time to wait — quotes from the Liverpool Echo:
“[Damien] Comolli told me that the new owners (Fenway Sports Group), they had an idea of how to spend their investment.
“They wanted to bring in young players, to build something new. I was thinking to myself, this takes time to work. It takes two, three, four, maybe even 10 years.
“I didn’t have that time. I was 27 years old. I did not have time to wait. I wanted to win. Here we are five years later and they are still trying to build – around the same position in the league as when I left.”
“It was presented as if I was a traitor. It was not like this in the discussion(s). Liverpool could not admit they were doing something wrong with the whole team. They had to find a guilty one.”
After scoring 65 goals in 106 league games for Liverpool, Torres seemed destined to star on the biggest stage — something the Reds had fallen away from by that point in his career — and he did so to an extent, helping the Blues to the 2012 UEFA Champions League title, though as much less of a central figure than he would have hoped (20 goals in 110 league appearances; 45 in 172 in all competitions).
It’s a shame that Torres’s Liverpool legacy has been reduced by his departure. For the majority of his time at the club, there was no striker more unplayable in the Premier League. If Torres didn’t fit into the new owners’ vision going forward, he could have been sold (for a massive fee to them), the whole thing framed as a deal done by mutual consent in order for all sides to come out looking better than they’ve actually done. Instead, this dramatic saga became the first of many public-relations disasters that will ultimately go down as FSG’s own Liverpool legacy once they inevitably sell the club and move on to their next business venture.