Michael Baddeley finishes his popular series featuring his all time favourite Liverpool Summer transfers.
Fernando Torres – £20.2 million
Liverpool headed into the 2007 Summer transfer window on the back of a second successive 3rd place finish in the league and runners up in the UEFA Champions League. We possessed a steady defence and a solid midfield. All we really lacked was a natural finisher. Come forth Fernando Torres. Another Spanish international and possibly the missing piece in the Rafa Revolution.
Torres was only 23-years-old when he joined, but there was no doubting his talent. He was going to be a superstar. He’d played 244 games and scored 91 goals at Atletico Madrid, a ratio of a goal every 2.6 games. The summer before he competed in the World Cup. Despite this being his first he didn’t look out of place at all, netting three goals in four games proved he wasn’t one to shy away from the limelight in all the right reasons.
He announced himself to the Anfield faithful on his first competitive game at the ground with a glorious strike against Chelsea. A strike that we would see him replicate many times. A drop of the shoulder, swiftly taking the ball past a defender and then coolly slotting the ball into the far corner.
It was in the Champions League where he announced himself to the world though. A tie-ending goal at the San Siro vs Inter Milan, a brilliant goal against Arsenal in the quarter-final and a goal against Chelsea in the semi-final. He was showing everyone he was the real deal.
The second half of the Premier League season saw him net 12 goals in eight games. Back-to-back hat-tricks at home against Middlesbrough and West Ham, the first person to do this since 1946, and a winner in his first Merseyside derby were just seven of the 12. If you even dare to question his ability then let his stats do the talking for him, 33 league games – 24 league goals, 46 games – 33 goals in all competitions and named in the PFA Team of the Year. As first seasons go, this wasn’t a bad one at all.
Throughout the season he broke numerous records. He set a new record for the most prolific foreign goal scorer in a debut Premier League season with 24 league goals. He was also the first Liverpool striker to score 20 league goals since Robbie Fowler in the 1996-96 season and eclipsed Michael Owens personal record of 28 goals in a season.
However, it was in late October 2008 when he would receive the real praise for his debut season. He was named in the FIFPro World XI team for the season and featured alongside names like Sergio Ramos, Carlos Puyol, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and team-mate Steven Gerrard. The boy was simply outstanding.
He didn’t exactly suffer a bad second season either. Despite picking up a few injuries and only playing 24 league games he still notched a total of 14 goals. He grabbed two goals against Everton, he then scored another two a week later, one of these being Liverpool’s 1000th goal in the Premier League as we came from behind to win 3-2 against Manchester City. As well as his previous seasons form, these were just a few of the performances that led to him being named the third best player in the world behind Ronaldo and Messi.
But the season didn’t stop there for him. Lets not forget a goal in the 4-0 demolishing of the mighty Real Madrid, which was then followed up four days later with a stunning performance against Man United. He ran circles round the defenders and contributed with a goal in the 1-4 drubbing away to our arch rivals.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t help take us to a 19th league title, which at one point seemed to be Liverpool’s to lose. Despite not winning anything with the team he appeared in the PFA Team of the Year and the FIFPro World XI for the second time in as many years.
His third season started with a contract renewal. A clause added that would mean we could extend his contract for another year when it expired in 2013. The season also saw him record his best goal scoring ratio for the club, a magnificent 18 goals in 22 games and the fastest Liverpool player to reach 50 league goals helped him to cement his place in Liverpool history.
He put in many brilliant performances over the season but despite this Liverpool only managed to come 7th in the league. His season was cut short though on the 18th April as he picked up a knee injury that would require surgery. Thankfully for Torres he still went to the World Cup and helped lift the trophy for Spain.
A horrendous managerial change at the start of the season resulted in a dip of form from the Spaniard and what seemed to be a change of mood. No longer did he look like a man who wanted to play for Liverpool. He looked unhappy on and off the field resulting in the inevitable happening. Not even a change of ownership and the arrival of Kenny Dalglish at Christmas could stop him going to Chelsea for a whopping £50 million.
For me Torres was the second best buy in Liverpool history. But all the good times are smeared with dirt. A true Kop hero would have stayed at our time in need. But he jumped off a sinking ship only to sink himself, just like many before him have done. He left an adoring fanbase to play for money and the plastic flag brigade.
Unfortunately, leaving in the manner he did and who it was too, will always taint his time at the club. He was a excellent player, no doubting that. We will all remember his partnership with Gerrard, his goal-scoring antics vs Chelsea and how his armband proved he was a red. But how he left will hurt. But in terms of skill, Torres was the best piece of Summer transfer business we’ve ever done.