Rodgers: I told Chelsea to sign Torres for £20m back in 2006
For the Chelsea fans out there who suspect Fernando Torres was overpriced at £50m then yesterday's revelation from Brendan Rodgers, their former reserve manager, will not go down well. He urged Chelsea to sign the striker more than five years ago when his price tag was some £30m less.
Rodgers, who takes his Swansea side to West London tomorrow, recalled how Jose Mourinho sent him to scout the striker in 2006 when Atletico Madrid were playing at Barcelona in La Liga. The then 21-year-old was inspirational, scoring two at the famous stadium, just as he had the year before.
"It was the Nou Camp, he was young, he was the captain, he was fantastic, he scored two great goals," said Rodgers. "He was one hell of a talent, the timing and skill... he was the real catalyst for Atletico who were very good at the time."
Rodgers' report back to his manager was unequivocal. "My recommendation was to take him," he said. Yet Chelsea failed to seal the deal and Torres remained at his home club. The rest is history and no small amount ofhysteria.
The next year Torres joined Liverpool for £20m and after three seasons which yielded 65 goals in 102 appearances, not to mention a European Championship and a World Cup with Spain, he shocked football in January by joining Chelsea for £50m. If only they had listened to Rodgers in the first place. But as far as the Swansea manager is concerned, Chelsea are still on to a sure thing; despite that miss.
"He actually did well; it was great skill in the first place to beat the keeper," said Rodgers. "Yeah, like everyone, I thought he had to score; put it this way, Ronny Rosenthal will be happy. That's the reality but he will move on and will be looking to score on Saturday."
Indeed, Rodgers wished Torres had fired into that empty Manchester United net. He heads to Stamford Bridge, for his first visit there since leaving for Watford in 2008, fearing a Fernando backlash.
"It would have been easier for us [tomorrow] if he had scored," he said. "Strikers rely on two things – goals and games. Torres was aggressive last weekend and I enjoyed that, because it was something he hadn't been of late. It's obvious he's been having problems with injury but you saw last week he's getting back to where he wants to be. There's no hiding from the fact: he's a world-class striker and will soon return to that form."
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