Chelsea's bid for Fernando Torres shows they still mean business
Two months ago, it seemed for all intents and purposes that Roman Abramovich had lost all interest in Chelsea. The Blues complete lack of form mixed with Russia's winning World Cup bid looked like the west London club's final-nail-in-the-coffin. The sceptics presumed that with ten stadiums, hundreds of hotels and thousands of miles of new railway to be built, Abramovich's millions wouldn't be able to stretch back to his play-thing in London. But aligned with their pursuit of David Luiz from Benfica, it seems the Russian hasn't lost his appetite for English football.
Having lost Ricardo Carvalho, Joe Cole, Deco and Michael Ballack in the summer, Ancelotti was invited to make use of the club's burgeoning academy system. Expensively - and in some cases controversially - assembled, the youth squad's creme de la creme were meant to integrate some much needed freshness and vitality in to the ageing first team. The experiment of drafting four of the most promising young players has, however, born limited fruit. The emergence of Josh McEachran is an overwhelming plus, but Gael Kakuta has failed to produce what his early performances promised. Patrick van Aanholt has been shipped out to Leicester City on-loan, and Jeffrey Bruma has yet to establish himself in the first team - even being used as a make-weight for the David Luiz transfer.
And more to the point, Daniel Sturridge - who was seen as the new hope for Chelsea at the start of the season - has failed to displace Salomon Kalou, Nicholas Anelka and Didier Drogba from the starting XI, all of whom have looked underwhelming in the past few weeks. The 21-year-old has failed to find the net in any of his 13 league appearances.
The bid for Torres then, is both an admission of weakness in the playing squad and, perhaps more importantly, an understanding that Carlo Ancelotti is the man to lead Chelsea out of the baron spell they currently find themselves in. Whether the oligarch will sanction the £50million bid which will release the clause in his contract is yet to be seen. But with Torres cleared to play in this year's Champions League, it would make him particularly valuable as the club prepare for the last 16 game against FC Copenhagen next month, and will certainly cement their place in the top four, ready for a European challenge next year.
Torres's state of mind has been a talking point for months, and although it is true that he never looked himself under Roy Hodgson, it was not the ex-Fulham manager's arrival which blighted his form or confidence. A succession of injuries last season and a general malaise under Benitez were under-pinned by his performances at this summer's World Cup where his complete lack of anything resembling class was as baffling as that of Wayne Rooney's for England. Having become such an icon at Anfield, Torres in decline seemed to symbolise the spiral the club was taking under Rafa Benitez. And it seemed all to easy to conclude that the departure of Xabi Alonso, followed by Javier Mascherano, had forced him to give up hope.
Although his performances seemed to have picked up since the arrival of Kenny Dalglish, it seems as if Torres has become disillusioned with life at Liverpool. Missing two seasons of Champions League football has become a major gripe for the Spaniard, and he feels as if he's been betrayed by the club's lack of investment. All the signs now point towards Torres moving to Chelsea, with the player himself asking for Liverpool to negotiate with the west London club. The departure of Torres could pave the way for Luis Suarez to join from Ajax: but is this the result Liverpool fans want?
It's been proven before with numerous examples that goals in Holland don't equate to goals in England, and with Manchester United on the verge of finally "knocking Liverpool off their f***ing perch", this probably isn't the best time to be a Reds fan.