Yossi Benayoun backs misfiring Fernando Torres

 

Yossi Benayoun believes "the real Fernando Torres" will emerge once the misfiring Chelsea striker puts his recent dry run in front of goal behind him.

Torres has one goal in 13 matches after Thursday night's Europa League last-32 first-leg 1-0 win at Sparta Prague - a match during which the World Cup winner missed opportunities and was subjected to the anger of visiting Blues fans.

While many Chelsea supporters have lost faith in Torres, Benayoun, like interim manager Rafael Benitez, has backed his former Liverpool colleague.

"You can understand it is not easy, from being the top striker at Liverpool - he was unbelievable, you gave him the ball and you knew he would score," Benayoun said.

"But he had a bad time in the beginning at Chelsea. When he came in, he was on the bench, then on the pitch.

"He did not get the confidence when he came in. And with the £50million above his head, it is not easy for any player."

In three and a half years at Liverpool, after being signed from Atletico Madrid by Benitez for a fee of £20m, Torres scored 81 goals in 142 matches before moving to Stamford Bridge on the final day of the 2011 winter transfer window for £50m on a five-and-a-half-year deal.

There have been glimpses of his capabilities at Chelsea, but not consistently. He has scored 25 goals in 134 appearances - 15 of them this term.

Torres netted seven times in six games in December, but his only goal since was the equaliser which forced tomorrow's FA Cup fourth-round replay with Brentford.

Benitez has praised Torres' work-rate and attributed his barren streak to the role he has to perform as a lone striker, but the Spain international could be removed from the firing line for tomorrow's encounter, with Demba Ba and Victor Moses available.

Benayoun said: "For me, he is still one of the best strikers in the world.

"You do not change so quick from being the best player, one of the best in the world, to a player that some people say is not good enough for Chelsea.

"He has had good spells, bad spells, and has 15 or 16 goals already. That is not bad, but hopefully he will finish with 25.

"He just needs to believe in himself. It would be good to get his confidence back and be his old self.

"Hopefully he will get a few more soon and you will see the real Fernando Torres."

Like Torres, Benayoun has struggled to reach the same heights since moving from Anfield to west London.

The Israel international had a spell on loan at Arsenal last season and was at West Ham during the first half of this campaign, the latter stint being marred by a knee injury which limited him to six appearances.

He has now made three substitute appearances since returning to Chelsea, where he is under contract until the end of the season.

Benayoun said: "I knew I would come back, but I was injured, so it took me a while to get fit. Now hopefully I will get more opportunities."

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