Following Atletico Madrid’s 1-1 draw in Sunday’s Madrid derby, Fernando Torres brought to a close his storied career with Los Colchoneros by announcing that the 2017/18 season will be his last in the Spanish capital.
Having graduated from the club’s academy, he was named club captain at just 19 years old and was heralded as the talent to define an era at the Estadio Vicente Calderon and that’s exactly what he did.
His goal record as a young player was phenomenal, he caught the attention of Europe’s biggest clubs, although he would never show a desire to leave for either Barcelona or Real Madrid.
After seven campaigns with Atleti’s senior team since the 2000/01 season, the Spanish forward would depart for Anfield in 2007 after scoring 82 goals in 214 matches.
A successful spell in England followed, although his £50 million move to Chelsea never truly worked out. It seemed inevitable that he would eventually end up back at Atletico once his AC Milan loan spell failed. Torres achieved the welcome befitting a hero upon his return, and immediately he began to make an impact.
Diego Simeone valued his experience and he rediscovered his form, it could quite easily be argued that his best football since his time on Merseyside came during his second spell in LaLiga.
11 goals in 30 LaLiga matches throughout the 2015/16 season was a fine return, although this season has unsurprisingly seen the Spaniard’s contributions decrease somewhat.
The arrival of Diego Costa was always going to have this impact, Torres is 34 years old and has made just 20 appearances this term, mostly from the bench. Los Rojiblancos are attempting to get back to the Champions League latter stages next season and Torres simply doesn’t fit into that plan, he’s no longer effective and the time has come to move on.
With Gabi and Juanfran both having their previously expiring contracts extended and Miguel Angel Moya was sold to Real Sociedad in January, the veteran forward knew he wasn’t going to be offered a new deal, so took the chance to make his own announcement.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to confirm that this is my last season at the club,” he explained on Sunday.
After giving such service to the club, his final months with Atletico Madrid will essentially be a farewell tour, the fans will greet every appearance with respect and adulation and he’ll bow out in the right way.
Just where next for Torres is difficult to say. The obvious choice seems to be an MLS move, the lifestyle is incredibly attractive and the standard of the league is improving. China would offer a sizable pay day, although Torres may use his former national team strike partner, David Villa, as an example of just what a move stateside can do for extending a career.