World Cup 2010: the key players

Fernando Torres

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres faces a race against time to be fit for the 2010 World Cup finals after undergoing more surgery on his right knee. If his projected recovery time is accurate, he should be able to join his Spain colleagues in South Africa -- but whether he can start the tournament at anything close to match sharpness must be in doubt.

He has already been ruled out for the remainder of Liverpool's failing season, further cutting their chances of finishing in the top four of the Premier League and meaning that he will miss the opportunity to face his old club, Atletico Madrid, in the Europa League.

Given the uncertainties over the future at Anfield, he may even have played his last match for Liverpool.  By the time he returns to fitness, Rafa Benitez may have gone and with the manager who signed him no longer around, Torres may be disinclined to stay on Merseyside, particularly in a team that is less equipped to challenge the elite of Europe than when he joined.

Real Madrid are said to be eager to take him back to Spain.  It is not inconceivable that he and Benitez could be reunited at the Bernabeu.

One of Benitez's few unqualified successes among the legion of players signed, there is no questioning the impact Torres has made on Liverpool.   His 72 goals from 116 appearances across all competitions is a sensational return.  He already has a winner's medal from Euro 2008, where he scored the winning goal in the final, and the bookmakers believe he can repeat the trick in South Africa, making Spain favourites at around 4-1, just ahead of Brazil and England.

A number of books about his life and career have been published, none of them particularly original or illuminating, although the autobiographical Torres: El Nino: My Story, while placing a heavy emphasis on illustrations, does include some insights into the life of a modern-day footballer.

Not everyone knows... that Torres's first position, in junior football, was goalkeeper; that Chelsea and Newcastle both tried to sign him before he joined Liverpool; his 24 Premier League goals in 2007-08 beat the record set by Ruud Van Nistelrooy for most goals by a foreign player in a debut season.

Buy Torres: El Nino: My Story direct from this site.

For more on Fernando Torres, more on Liverpool and more on World Cup 2010, visit The Sports Bookshelf shop.

No 1: Lionel Messi



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