Torres moved 'to play in Champions League'

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The Independent Football

Fernando Torres moved to Chelsea from Liverpool to avoid the torture of having to watch another round of Champions League matches on the television, according to the Spain striker's international team-mate David Villa.

Villa, who is due in London tomorrow for Wednesday's first-leg, first knockout round tie against Arsenal, says he believes it was Torres' desire to bring an immediate end to his exile from football's biggest competition that was the most important factor in his decision to leave Liverpool.

Torres starts his first West London derby tonight against Fulham knowing that as Champions League football returns he will be part of the show when Chelsea play FC Copenhagen in Denmark next week.

Villa said: "When you are not involved and you have to watch the matches on the television you feel that you are one rung down on the ladder from everybody else.

"It's the biggest club competition in the world and you don't enjoy your season anywhere near as much when you are not in it.

"I've been through it myself. Last year I didn't play Champions League football and your season is not complete. Fernando is a player who needs to be playing in the Champions League. He is one of the top forwards in the world and he needs to be in a team playing at the highest level.

"It is very difficult to be watching these games on the television year after year. I understand the criticism he received because everybody has their heart in their club but you have to see it from Fernando's point of view as well. I'm just really pleased that he is happy now."

Villa admitted he spoke to his international team-mate shortly after Torres sealed the move and says he believes there is no doubt he will succeed at his new club. "We spoke briefly just after the move was completed. He was very caught up still in the move but I congratulated him. Chelsea already had a great team but now with the signing of Fernando they have one of the best strikers on the planet and that makes them even more powerful - if they can find room for him. I'm sure they will. He has certain qualities that will push them on even further."

Villa accepts that Torres' London move will never be popular on Merseyside. "As my team-mate in the national side and my friend I want the best for him," he said. "And I am convinced that he is going to triumph there, but it is difficult for the fans."