£50m-flop Torres leaves Sturridge marginalised
Chelsea may regret spending so much on Spaniard, while young Englishman is scoring at will for Bolton
Fernando Torres endured another 31 minutes of misery at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as his goal drought continued. The Spanish striker has now gone 817 minutes without scoring for club and country, and more than 650 of those minutes have been spent wearing a Chelsea shirt.
Blues fans, who gave him such a rousing reception when he made his debut against his former club Liverpool in February, must now be wondering what all the excitement was about. Torres is on the fast track to take his place alongside other big money flops like Diego Forlan, Juan Veron and, most worryingly for the Chelsea faithful, Andriy Shevchenko, another expensive striker who failed miserably at the club.
To make matters worse on Saturday, as Chelsea struggled to beat a team they had scored 14 goals against in their previous two meetings, there came the news that the man who was farmed out on loan to make room for Torres, Daniel Sturridge (above, left), was in fine form for Bolton Wanderers at the other end of the country.
While Torres has laboured ineffectively since arriving in London, the 21-year-old Sturridge has been making waves at the Reebok Stadium. In eight league games for the Trotters the young forward has netted six times. He scored twice on Saturday against West Ham. That sort of return could have kept Chelsea in the title race.
Quite why Chelsea's owner Roman Abramovich decided that the club should spend £50m marginalising such a talented young player is a question that many fans will be asking themselves.
Sturridge, who is just 21, arrived at Chelsea two summers ago after a tug of war with Manchester City. The fee they paid for him was set by a tribunal, but will not exceed £6.5m - a pittance compared to Torres. They fought hard to sign him because he is such a promising player, a future England striker with bags of potential. But since Torres arrived Sturridge is apparently no longer needed at the Bridge.
The fear is that, just as he did when he insisted on signing Shevchenko, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has let a vanity project compromise the club.
Back in 2006, the Russian hitman arrived at Stamford for the astonishingly high price of £30.8m in 2006 with experts warning that his best days were behind him. And so it proved with a return of 14 goals in 51 games.
Torres was signed for an equally mind-boggling sum, £50m, and will have to go some to justify that price tag given his dismal start.
But he has been off the pace for more than a season now. He was carrying an injury in the latter stages of last season but despite going under the knife he cut a forlorn figure for Spain as they won the World Cup despite, rather than because of, his presence in the side.
Back at Liverpool at the start of this season he appeared unhappy and much of the blame for his lethargic performances was laid at the door of Roy Hodgson. But the player hardly seems reinvigorated by a change of scenery.
Meanwhile, Sturridge certainly does seem to be enjoying life and is fast becoming one of the most feared strikers in the league. Next season, with Sturridge back in the fold, Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti will have a tough decision to make about which of the two strikers to favour.
Sadly for Chelsea supporters, his choice may have to be based more on politics than ability. ·
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