Fernando Torres Heads Home to Madrid After Milan Agrees Loan

Spain’s World Cup-winning striker Fernando Torres is returning to his first club, Atletico Madrid, on loan from AC Milan until the end of next season.

The 30-year-old spent seven years with his hometown club before moving to Liverpool in 2007. He then became the most-expensive player in English soccer when Chelsea paid the Reds 50 million pounds ($78 million) for him in 2011.

The Spaniard struggled to score goals after that move. After netting 65 in 102 games for Liverpool, Torres managed just 20 goals in 110 Premier League games for the Blues and has scored once in 10 games for Milan since joining the Italians earlier this year.

“Nobody can doubt how I’ll feel wearing that shirt again,” Torres said told Atletico’s website. “Atleti fans always demand your all on the field and I guarantee that I will give them that and more.”

Torres was initially loaned to Milan for the remaining two years of his Chelsea contract. Yesterday, the Blues and Milan completed a permanent transfer without providing further details. Atletico agreed to loan Italy midfielder Alessio Cerci to Milan as part of the Torres agreement. The transfer will be official on Jan. 5, Atletico said.

Torres is returning to a much-changed team. When he joined Liverpool, Atletico was rarely in contention for trophies, and played in the shadow of rival Real Madrid. Last season it won the Spanish championship and was minutes away from beating Real in the Champions League final.

‘My Dream’

Despite his troubles, Torres remains a popular figure among Atletico fans. Torres helped the team win promotion to the Spanish top flight and was captain before he left for Liverpool. He scored 91 goals in 244 games during his first spell with the team.

“When I was a child, my dream was to play for Atletico, I achieved that, and to come back now is another dream I get to accomplish again,” Torres said. “I’ve been fine with other teams, but there isn’t one like Atleti.”

Torres scored the winning goal as Spain won the 2008 European championship. He was on the field when the team won the World Cup in South Africa two years later, and was also part of the 2012 European championship winning roster. With Chelsea, Torres won the 2012 Champions League and the F.A. Cup the same year. His last trophy was the 2013 Europa League.

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