Monday, January 31, 2011

Et tu Torres?

In the final act of William Shakespeare's Julius Ceaser, during the Roman emperor's dying moments, he is shocked to find his close friend, Marcus Brutus, among his murderers. It is during this moment of betrayal the fallen Ceasar utters the legendary phrase, "Et tu Brute?" to the treacherous Brutus.

Not many other phrases aptly describe treachery like this Latin phrase and one imagines it would have been the first thing to cross Kenny Dalglish' mind on Jan 29 when Fernando Torres handed in his transfer request hours after an offer for the Spaniard had been rejected by the Anfield hierarchy.

Even more devastating was the fact that Torres' transfer request has completely overshadowed the signing of Uruguayan star, Luiz Suarez. Liverpool fans who had been dreaming of an explosive Torres-Suarez partnership were left shaking their heads and quite possibly, searching for the right phrase to describe the situation. Et tu Torres?

One wonders if Torres' transfer request was made without knowledge that a deal to bring in Suarez from Ajax Amsterdam was imminent. After all, until Jan28, it appeared as though the transfer policy of Liverpool's new American owners was very much similar to the previous regime that ran Anfield. Torres and fellow compatriot, Pepe Reina, had made it very clear at the beginning of the season that they would search for pastures greener if the club failed to invest in new players. As such, with even Dalglish complaining of the transfer impasse, one would understand if Torres too had finally thrown in the towel due Liverpool's lack of success in the transfer market.

Then again, this is based on the hypothesis that Torres really isn't the villain in this story and that some bad timing and impatience has landed Liverpool with a host of new problems. Still, Torres has yet to publicly state his true intentions and since his transfer request, Chelsea have followed up with two new offers and the latest rumour is an offer of GBP50 million from the Blues in the form of cash or a combination of cash and Nicolas Anelka.

But Torres' act of betrayal to the club where he has pledged his allegiance to on many occasions, while shocking, isn't anything new. In fact, it follows a series of similar events this season made by footballers. First it was Wayne Rooney who appeared to he heading for a sensational switch to Man City only to change his mind at the 11th hour.

Then it was Rooney's former striker partner, Carlos Tevez, who despite the many public statements of his action towards City's fans, shocked the Eastland's club by handing in a transfer request. Like Rooney, Tevez too was coaxed into changing his mind and their betrayals have been forgotten by Man Utd and Man City fans respectively. And it doesn't hurt to score a couple of goals in the process to heal the wounds.

Still, the precedents left by Rooney and Tevez is an example of footballers holding clubs to ransom and Torres is the latest high-profile star to follow suit. The days in which clubs could play hardball with these players are long gone. Players like Rooney, Tevez and Torres have become too important for their respective clubs to lose.

Perhaps if Liverpool want to dig deeper and search for that moment in history when players became bigger than their clubs can be traced back to 2005 when Reds captain, Steven Gerrard nearly
signed for the Blues only to change his mind at the 11th hour. Any player that would have dared commit such an act 10 years ago would never have been given a second chance.

But Gerrard's betrayal has been forgotten by the Anfield faithful thanks to the results churned out by their captain week-in week-out over the last five seasons and if Torres does stay, his repertoire with the fans will be repaired once he scores a few goals.

On another note, it is somewhat surprising that Torres would choose to move to Chelsea at a time when the Blues have looked just as lost as Liverpool have. Carlo Ancelotti's men have had one of their worst runs in recent memory and the Italian's stint at Stamford Bridge is expected to end prematurely if things don't get much better soon.

To be fair to Torres, his frustrations at Anfield are understandable. After carrying much of the weight of the team for so long, he finds himself desperately seeking some rewards for it. And he probably doesn't believe Liverpool will be winning the Premier League or the Champions League again anytime soon. But then again, the future doesn't look any brighter at Stamford Bridge.

Both Torres and Liverpool are going through a major transition and if history has thought us anything, the Spaniard will be better of staying with the Reds. The club's new owners seem willing to splash the cash on quality players and the return of 'King' Kenny has brought about a positive change to the team. In fact, for the first time since signing for the club in 2007, Torres will finally have a world-class striking partner up front for the Reds. Why would he want to leave now?

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