It was a very disappointing end to the season for Fernando Torres, the striker brought to tears, like many of his teammates, as a result of their penalty shootout defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League Final at San Siro. Moreover, an omission from the Spain squad for Euro 2016, which was probably going to be his last opportunity to represent his country in an international tournament, will hurt sorely.
On an individual level, though, El Nino will be content with the knowledge that he has contributed a huge amount to another successful season for his boyhood club Atletico Madrid, even if the denouement to the campaign was unsatisfactory.
The fact that he was even in contention for a spot in Vicente del Bosque’s group is impressive enough considering the 32-year-old’s form before the second half of this campaign. Barren spells at Chelsea and Milan preceded the Spaniard’s return to Los Rojiblancos and it is safe to say that Diego Simeone has revitalised Torres’ career.
It was looking like another poor season on Torres’ part when, stuck on his 99th Atleti career goal, he hit a scoring drought that lasted nearly five months. When he netted against Eibar at Vicente Calderon on February 6, however, it seemed as though a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and it allowed the striker to flourish once again. ‘The Kid’ has scored nine goals since then, including seven in his last 12 games.
So why was an in-form Torres left out of La Roja’s squad for Euro 2016? The man himself gave a dignified response to his exclusion and seems to accept that his time to shine in international football is likely to be over.
“It wasn’t a surprise, I’ve had two years without being called. I wish them well, I’m a fan, I wish the national team the best,” Torres said, according to AS. “I never saw an option to go to the national team and now I support them to do something never seen before: win the Euros three times in a row.
“Nobody called me when the squad was announced but that’s not a problem. It’s not going to affect me, it’s part of football. I’m not concerned at all. I’m Spanish and I want Spain to win.”
First of all, Del Bosque is only taking two out-and-out strikers to France, and Alvaro Morata and Aritz Aduriz are undoubtedly Spain’s two best forwards at this moment in time. There was no room for the likes of Diego Costa and Paco Alcacer either, so Torres has nothing to be disgruntled about in terms of the competition.
Knowing that 35-year-old Aduriz is ahead of Torres in the pecking order means that age can’t come into the equation, but there is no hiding from the fact that a loss of pace in recent years has led to a diminished effect on games. Yes, he has been excellent as of late, but Simeone has played to his strengths and given the player who was named Atleti captain at the age of 19 the freedom to rediscover himself.
There is simply not enough time and patience to do a similar thing with the national team, and even though his presence in the dressing room would have been profound, it is time for the new strikers in the side to step-up and perform, just like Torres did countless times for La Roja.