Atlético Madrid coach Diego Pablo Simeone told Fernando Torres on Monday that he didn’t figure in his plans for next season. In a meeting between the Argentinean, the striker and Atleti boss Miguel Ángel Gil Marín, the coach said that if it was up to him he wouldn’t sign the player before the close of the winter transfer window, with a deadline of 1 February.
Torres is on loan from Milan at Atleti, and the transfer ban Fifa has hit the club with, pending appeals, means they won’t be able to register Torres next summer or in the January 2017 window. In order to be sure of having Torres at the Calderón next season Atleti would need to sign him in this transfer window, that is, by next Monday.
Miguél Ángel Gil, for his part, told Torres that Atlético would request a temporary suspension of the transfer ban, and if it were granted and the striker performed well then he would be able to stay. If the suspension isn’t granted, then clearly no matter how the player performs he won’t be able to continue with Atleti.
Torres' desire was to stay with Atlético, his boyhood club, and he didn’t want to look at any of the offers from other clubs until he heard officially from Atleti whether they wanted him for next season.
Last week Simeone was asked directly in a press conference “Torres, yes or no?” At that point the meeting hadn’t taken place, and Cholo hadn’t spoken with El Niño. “No comment” was the Argentinean’s reply.
Yesterday, in the press conference ahead of the Copa del Rey match against Celta, he was asked again: “Any advance on a possible renewal of Torres or still no comment?” This time there was more: “The other day I said there was nothing to say because there wasn’t. We’ve talked to Fernando and he knows what I think and he’s told me what he feels. The talk remains private. We’ve talked, which is the main thing”. Simeone’s exact words.
The outcome isn’t entirely unexpected, on the basis of the tone of Simeone’s comments in his recent press conferences. In every one a single word came up: “performance”. “We think day to day, game by game. I can’t focus on anything else. This is about performance. We base everything on performance”, said Simeone on 13 January, before the Copa del Rey return leg against Rayo. “Both Torres and Jackson have two goals in all competitions, and without a doubt, both them and us expected more”, said the coach before the Valencia game in LaLiga back in October.
Yesterday marked exactly one year and two days since Torres returned to Atlético. A return asked for specifically by Simeone. He wanted him. But now it’s the Argentinean who is showing Torres the door.