Fernando Torres' time as a Chelsea player looks to be nearly over after AC Milan struck a deal to take him on a two-year loan.
Much was expected from the 30-year-old when he arrived from Liverpool in January 2011 for what was a British record deal. However, Torres fell short of living up to his £50m price tag and, after a frustrating three and a half years at Stamford Bridge, appears to have played his last match for the club. On Friday evening - just hours after manager Jose Mourinho downplayed speculation he would leave - Chelsea confirmed that the Spain striker would be joining AC Milan on loan until the expiration of his contract in 2016, subject to a medical.
"Chelsea Football Club and AC Milan have agreed terms for the two-year loan deal of Fernando Torres to the Italian club," read a statement on the club's official website.
"The move is now subject to Fernando agreeing personal terms with AC Milan and passing a medical examination."
While Torres only showed glimpses of his ability during his time in west London, Mourinho spoke highly of him as a player and a person on Friday afternoon. At a press conference previewing Saturday's trip to Everton, the Portuguese said he did not expect the forward to depart before the transfer window closed, admitting the Blues would be in trouble if he went.
"Well, if that happens in the last hour of the market, we are in trouble," said Mourinho, who has been linked with a move for Roma's Mattia Destro. "In this moment we are doing nothing because our belief is that the market is closed for us. I've believed for a long time that the squad is closed. We have our squad. We like our squad. It's not the perfect one, because no squad is perfect, but it's one we like."
The much-criticised frontman won the Golden Boot on the way to Spain's UEFA EURO 2012 triumph during his time with Chelsea and, while he went to the FIFA World Cup™, his lack of form and playing time saw him miss out on the latest squad for the upcoming matches against France and Macedonia. Perhaps that lack of recognition fuelled his desire to move to the San Siro - a move Mourinho, speaking before the deal was confirmed, could understand.
"If he wants to leave, in the case he wants to, it's because he wants to try a new life, a new club, probably a new league," the Portuguese said. "So if he wants to leave, which until this moment I have not one single word about, I believe that is to try to be happier than he was in the last couple of years.
"This is a very human club in the way the club approaches this kind of situation. If he comes to us in these last couple of days, any possibility would be analysed by us as a club and the best decision for him."