Fernando Torres was lauded at the end of the season for a fine goal against Benfica in the Europa League final and deservedly so, he showed good strength to brush off Luisao whilst showing calm to round the Benfica goalkeeper to give Chelsea a 1 goal lead at the Amsterdam ArenA. However, his goals in Europe have masked his inability to find the net domestically. 8 goals is a measly return for a striker who cost Chelsea £50m. The fans have shown him faith for a number of seasons and this season he has not repaid that faith in the league.
In big games he goes missing, only scoring once against three of the other big 4, Arsenal away, which was arguably his best game of the season. Last season he showed commitment and desire, albeit not a finishing touch, this season he lacked desire for the most part and seemed disinterested. His late run of form poses problems for the incoming Jose Mourinho as Roman Abramovich has shown in the past his inclination to keep Torres. So, what next for Torres? If Torres is sold, what then for the future of young Belgian Romelu Lukaku. Some would argue he’s Chelsea’s best striker, which he proved whilst playing for West Brom last season, and the statistics are there to back that opinion up.
Romelu Lukaku has made 8 less starts, played 567 less minutes, and played in a team without the likes of Hazard, Mata and Oscar and has still produced 9 more goals in the Premier League than that of Torres. The statistics show that Lukaku is more clinical, with a goal every one and a third game, whilst having a 21% chance conversion and 36% clear cut chance conversion. An interesting statistic that can be compared between the two is the amount of shots that each striker has had. Torres has had 52, while Lukaku has 81. One is a striker who is confident and in form whilst the other is not, and the amount of shots taken reflects that.
Whilst Lukaku will be more inclined to shoot with instinct, Torres has seemed to have lost that instinct that was a trademark of his during his time at Liverpool, rather he looks to pass the ball or waits too long on the ball before shooting. His shooting accuracy isn’t that much less than Lukaku’s, only 2% less, however, for Torres to thrive again he needs to shoot more and be confident in his own abilities. He may have done that in the Europa League against inferior opposition, but the games in the league have shown that he has been unable to do so week in week out for Chelsea domestically.
Demba Ba since coming in has had a difficult time, only scoring 2 goals in the league with 435 minutes per goal. After a blistering start against Southampton in the cup, scoring twice, Ba has fizzled somewhat. Goals against both Manchester teams in the cup have shown that he is a scorer of fantastic goals; the problem is whether he is a fantastic goal scorer. His shooting accuracy is good, however his chance conversion needs to improve, with a measly 7%. The problem that arises for Ba is that he is being closed down more whilst playing for a top club. At Newcastle he thrived as he was with Papiss Cisse and he had more time on the ball, however at Chelsea as the lone striker when played it has been difficult for Ba to find that space on the ball, and when he does he needs to be more clinical.
It’s clear from the transfer rumours that Chelsea are looking for a big name striker. Demba Ba, at a cost of £7m in January, seems to be second or third choice next season irrespective of who comes in. The problem for Chelsea is what to do with Lukaku and Torres. Although Torres has shown glimpses, he wants to be the main man and a big money move in the summer for a striker from Chelsea means that Torres would be second fiddle and if Torres does stay, that would surely result in Lukaku going on loan yet again. Lukaku has been Chelsea’s best striker last season, as the statistics have proved even though he didn’t play at Chelsea, however he would still not be considered first choice under the Chelsea hierarchy.
A recent interview on Belgian television indicated that he wouldn’t mind a move to Borussia Dortmund or Schalke 04. This move represents a step up in quality, with European football, and something that Chelsea should definitely look in to. What Chelsea have to ensure is that they can’t be limited in their options up front, as they were last year after selling Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool, with only two senior strikers within the squad. The return of Jose represents a new era at Chelsea, whether that new era is without Fernando Torres remains to be seen.
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