Fernando Torres not the man for Atleti
Summer rolls around and Atletico Madrid are in the process of acquiring a new front line. It's almost a yearly -- or at least biennial -- event, and comes as little surprise to followers of Los Rojiblancos.
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Diego Costa, David Villa and Adrian Lopez have all moved on to pastures new, while the club have acted swiftly and astutely to secure the services of Mario Mandzukic from Bayern Munich.
There are still striking voids that need to be filled, and a glut of names have been linked to the Spanish champions recently, including Romelu Lukaku and Nicolas Gaitan, while a return to his boyhood club for former Atleti captain Fernando Torres has been mooted. Indeed, when Mandzukic was presented at the Calderon on Thursday, fans sung the academy graduate's name before the new signing appeared, in a less than subtle message to the club's top brass.
That they need more firepower is not in doubt, but is goal-shy Torres really the man to help Atletico in their quest to retain their title and go one better in the Champions League? While it might be a nice thought, romantic even, it is ultimately doubtful.
As has been shown over the past three and a half seasons at Chelsea, "El Nino" does not like it when there is another big-name (or better) striker at the club. He has never gotten over playing second fiddle to Didier Drogba and, following the arrival of Costa and the return of his Ivorian nemesis, there does not seem to be a future for him at Stamford Bridge.
Mandzukic, however, could prove to be his Drogba at Atleti. For a start, the Croat has taken the Spaniard's old No. 9 shirt, and at 28 is coming into his prime, having enjoyed a fine goal-scoring campaign last year at Bayern. The same cannot be said of Torres, whose astronomical wages would also provide a stumbling block for any potential return.
The club could do worse than looking at another Premier League striker seemingly surplus to requirements: Javier Hernandez.
Rumours have been circulating that new boss Louis van Gaal has told "Chicharito," who found opportunities limited at Manchester United last season, he is free to leave the club, with Atletico Madrid a plausible destination.
If that is the case, Diego Simeone should do everything in his power to ensure that Hernandez is plying his trade at the Vicente Calderon come the opening day of the new season.
The striker, who seems to have lost his way and is suffering from a crisis of confidence, would thrive under the stewardship of Simeone, a coach who squeezes every last drop out of his troops, and has a knack of making even the most lost of souls both perform and feel like different players.
Hernandez would bring a highly coveted predatory instinct that would complement a player of Mandzukic's abilities. If there's one thing that the Mexican can be relied upon for, it is that he always seems to grab you a goal -- a priceless commodity for a striker.
Despite being used as a "super sub" for most of his career in English football, the striker boasts a record of 37 league goals in 101 games for United (Torres has 20 in 110 for Chelsea over the same period), and if he were to play regularly, there is little doubt that he would improve this strike rate.
What's more, the 26-year-old still has a long future in the game, and is the kind of player who has proven over the years that he does not need to be indulged and treated as the main man, possessing the ability to make a significant impact both when starting and when coming off the bench.
The fee commanded for Hernandez and the player's wages are likely to be significantly less than those of former Liverpool star Torres, meaning this deal makes much more sense for Atleti, who are preparing for the departures of up to six more first-team players, and need a goal scorer much more than the return of a local hero.
One of those on his way out is Premier League-bound Javier Manquillo. He will be replaced by utility defender Cristian Ansaldi of Russian side Zenit, who is capable of playing at either left-back or right-back and provides steady defensive cover.
But pragmatic defenders aren't the kind of signings that appease fans and get the juices flowing. Atleti are also in the market for a creative wide man to complement Arda Turan, with France international Antoine Griezmann believed to be on the verge of joining on a 25 million euro deal.
Just imagine a forward line of Arda, Griezmann, Mandzukic and Hernandez. While it might lack the "Galactico" status of the Real Madrid and Barcelona attacks, there are goals aplenty.
If Simeone can add attackers of such calibre to a spine of Jan Oblak, Miranda, Diego Godin, Koke and Mandzukic, doing the impossible and retaining the league title might not seem such a pipe dream after all.