Villas-Boas to take embattled striker to task over apparent criticism of colleagues
CHELSEA vs BAYER LEVERKUSEN
MISFIRING record signing Fernando Torres’ Chelsea future has been plunged into doubt after the club launched an investigation into an interview in which he appeared to criticise his team-mates’ “slow” play.
Blues manager Andre Villas-Boas has vowed to quiz £50m striker Torres over his alleged remarks, which appeared on the player’s own website and included the alleged assertion that Chelsea have “an older player, who plays very slow, who has a lot of possession”.
The controversy comes as Torres aims to win back his place in the team for tonight’s Champions League opening fixture against last season’s German runners-up Bayer Leverkusen at Stamford Bridge.
“We are going in-depth to regain the tape of that interview. We’ll see if things play exactly as they are in that interview,” said Villas-Boas.
Torres is likely to escape a fine as it is understood the interview, which originally appeared on the website of the Spanish Primera Liga, was authorised by the club.
And Villas-Boas suggested he would solve any problem through dialogue rather than seek to impose sanctions on a player already experiencing difficulties in west London, if the quotes proved accurate. “We’d just talk. If it was unauthorised, I’d fine him – of course. Anyhow, it’s one player’s perspective. I don’t think it’s a perspective that the manager shares.
“I don’t have to share my players’ ideas sometimes. I think we have competence, apart from the ‘age problem’, which for me is not a problem. Maybe we just have to speak and he has to see our view as well.”
Villas-Boas refused to let on whether Torres might be recalled for this evening’s match – the manager’s first in Europe’s premier club competition – having dropped him at Sunderland on Saturday.
The Spain forward has scored just once in 21 appearances since his British record move from Liverpool in January and now finds himself out of favour with his national team too.
Strike rival Didier Drogba is unavailable tonight following his concussion last month, which could open the door for Torres, but he also faces competition from youngster Daniel Sturridge, who scored at the weekend and has caught the eye of Villas-Boas.
Drogba could return on Sunday, when Chelsea travel to Manchester United for an early clash of two of the Premier League title favourites.
VIllas-Boas added: “You will see some changes [today], and then of course we will have to address the rest of the four days after to make as wise a decision as possible for Old Trafford. Didier is away, he did some damage to his teeth when he fell to the ground and we decided to give him some days off.”
KNOW YOUR ENEMY | BAYER LEVERKUSEN
Last-year’s runners-up, Bayer currently sit fourth in the Bundesliga, having recovered from an opening-day defeat to post three wins and a draw. In their last outing they thrashed Augsburg 4-1 – a match that took place on Friday, meaning they will have enjoyed an extra day’s rest to Chelsea.
Robin Dutt swapped Freiburg for Bayer over the summer and has had a hard act to follow, after Jupp Heynckes upped sticks and left Leverkusen for the bright lights of Bayern Munich, but the half-Indian Dutt has made a reasonable start.
Former Germany captain and Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack (above) is the biggest name in the Bayer line-up, although at 34 years old is no longer assured of a starting place. Germany striker Stefan Kiessling is a threat up front, as is Swiss youngster Eren Derdiyok.