Torres and the elite one man wrecking machines

Now, I don’t know about you, but for me it wasn’t a surprise to hear Fernando Torres wants out of Liverpool. For too long rumours have been circulating about him leaving. I thought he had his head turned a while ago, and how long can a player with such class and talent play without Champions League Football?

I even heard a radio debate a few weeks ago discussing the worth of the player, one mentioned only £20,000,000?! At the time I thought, in true Gary Coleman style – ‘What you talking about Willis?’. This is crazy talk when you are discussing a player whose talent and physique makes him one of the rarest commodities in football today.

This elite type of striker only has one value – priceless.

Now Chelsea obviously want Torres to replace the ageing Drogba. Fernando and Didier are two strikers from the same mould. For me, this type of striker is in decline or at least, in very short supply at the moment. This breed of striker has only one word to describe them – quite simply a ’beast’.

A beast is a perfect striker, a player that has everything. A beast can grace any team, but is perfectly suited to the Premier League. Week after week, you see more and more Premier League sides lining up in a 4-5-1 formation, playing a lone striker. There are not too many strikers that can play this role and this is perhaps why players like Torres are in such demand.

The 4-5-1 formation insists a striker is not only a goal scorer, but is physically strong, good in the air, great at holding the ball up, and has a touch and control that is second to none.

This perhaps is the most demanding role on any football pitch in any formation, the only role that at times can be as isolated as a goal keeper. But as well as scoring ability, first touch, and strength, this modern day position demands so much more. To play here a player needs to be athletic and mobile. The position requires a player who is as deadly outside the box as they are in it, but they must be equally as good with their head as they are with their feet.  To be a beast requires a certain type of stature, a player between 6ft and 6ft 3ins in height, who has strength, power, pace, ability and agility. A striker that can feed off the crosses that playing this formation will provide.

But who are the members of this special striker club? Who can we count as a beast? Well, around the Premiership all of the top 5 have one or potentially have one, except Spurs. Drogba at Chelsea, Van Persie at Arsenal, Berbatov at United, now Dzeko at City.

It could be argued that Spurs desperately need a lone ranger – and if you could breed a love child from Crouch, Pavlyuchenko, and Defoe they would probably have one! You can see how the lack of this type of striker has cost Spurs so far this year, deploying a 4-5-1 with Van der Vaart off the lone striker.

This is because it takes a special kind of player to do it. Technically, Pavlyuchenko could fill this role, but the application and attitude are not there.

Who else is out there? Why is Torres the only realistic target for Chelsea if they want to fill Drogba’s boots? Let’s start looking around the Premier League and there are few who could be considered a beast. Andy Carroll has been mooted as a this type of player, and there is no doubt he has the physical attributes, although you could question his pace. The other drawback with Carroll is his work outside the box and his touch, but this guy is young and could improve. Is Darren Bent this type of player? Would you call Bent a beast? Is that why Villa spent £24m? Yes and no. Physically not big enough and also not good enough with his head (Sandra), and probably not good enough outside the box with his shooting. Sorry Benty.

Elsewhere in the Premier League you would maybe mention Elmander, Santa Cruz, Kenwyne Jones and maybe Zamora who fit the size requirements – but none of them have the class or all-round package to be considered one of the few in this elite striker club. If Torres does leave, Liverpool are again left with a problem upfront. Suarez is a good player and a goal scorer, but he is a second striker rather than someone who can lead the line on this own.  

In Europe there is also a shortage. At Real Madrid, only Ronaldo is the complete player who can lead the line regardless of who is around him. Higuain, Benzema and Adebayor for me are only maybe’s. They have a lot of the attributes to play in this role, but are still to prove they are elite.

You find the same thing the harder you look. Close, but no cigar - Kanoute, Luis Fabiano and Forlan are now too old and have never really become labelled a world class ‘complete’ striker. Negredo and Llorente are physically capable of becoming a striker like this, but it is all potential at the moment as they have a lot to prove. Across the rest of Europe you have Ibrahimovic and E’to that stand out, but Zlatan’s attitude has held him back, and E’Eto is more of an out and out goal scorer. Then you have Cavani, Hulk, Mario Gomez, Bjorn Viemineckx, and Janko who are scoring goals and potentially fit the criteria. But none are perfect, none are elite, none are the best of the best.

Membership rejected.

So you can see why Chelsea are going for Torres. It is no surprise with the way they play that they would want a similar replacement for Drogba. What really makes these handful of striker’s standout is the fact they are one man wrecking machines. We could soon see two of them in one team if Torres does complete his move.

They can easily play with someone off them, but it is the ability to be the lone wolf that sets them apart. Not many can boast the physical, technical, or mental attributes needed to be considered ‘the perfect striker’ or a ‘beast’. This is an elite club for a reason and some are still only applying for membership like Dzeko.

This type of striker only comes round once in a while which is why players like Torres are so special. They guarantee you a minimum of 20 goals a season, but they also give a team so much more.

Everyone wants a beast, but not everyone can have one.

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  2. Pringalez Maximus says:

    Torres said today he was looking forward to playing for one of the top clubs in the premiership, the final insult to the Anfield mob.

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