- Premier League
Chelsea blamed for Torres struggles
Chelsea midfielder Yossi Benayoun has risked the wrath of his employers by accusing his club of playing a key role in the fall from grace of £50 million striker Fernando Torres.
Torres has struggled to make an impact at Chelsea since his record-breaking move from Liverpool in January 2011 and now Benayoun has now claimed his troubled team-mate has been the victim of "bad handling" during his time at Stamford Bridge.
The Israeli playmaker, who is already a fringe player within Rafael Benitez's Chelsea squad, may have some questions to answer when his bosses see his comments in Saturday's Daily Mirror, as he pulls few punches in his criticism of his paymasters.
"It is a hard time for Fernando, but in my opinion the situation with him was managed badly from the beginning," Benayoun is quoted as saying. "You do not change so quickly from being one of the best in the world to a player that some people say is not good enough for Chelsea.
"When he was at Liverpool he was unbelievable. You gave him the ball and you knew he would score, but he had a bad time in the beginning at Chelsea. When he came in, he was on the bench, then on the pitch, so he did not get the confidence when he came in.
"With the £50 million price-tag above his head, it is not easy for any player, especially when Didier Drogba was here as well and was his competition."
Benayoun went on to suggest Torres is still "one of the best strikers in the world", and claims this is the first season he has been given the full backing of Chelsea to prove his worth as their record signing.
"This is the first year the club gave Fernando 100% confidence he needs to be No. 1," he added. "He was scoring a few in a row. Now he is in another bad spell, but he just needs to believe in himself, to keep doing the right movements.
"He has 15 or 16 goals already and that is not bad. Hopefully he will finish with 25. It would be good to get his confidence back and be his old self, the real Fernando Torres. Personally I believe in him 100 per cent. For me, he is still one of the best strikers in the world."
Torres will get his latest chance to emerge from his slump in form when Chelsea welcome Brentford to Stamford Bridge for an FA Cup fourth round replay on Sunday.