London - Tick, tock the wait goes on for Fernando Torres. Much like his career since Chelsea spent all that money, the transfer window that promised something is passing by.
The interest is there. Atletico Madrid and Monaco both want to invest in a shadow, but evidently not enough to meet Chelsea’s valuation and Torres’ expectations for wages. In the circumstances, both seem high.
It has passed the point of becoming a dark comedy, this decline of one of the best strikers to play in the Premier League. Loss of form is one thing, José Mourinho’s suggestion last season that he wasn’t a ‘real striker’ quite another. Public humiliation by virtue of his performances, cutting words from his manager.
Now this. Face buried in the turf, a replay of an astonishing miss on loop and soon to be viral. Dom Solanke, a prolific 16-year-old striker from the academy, has head in hands as he processes what he’s just seen.
In their report of Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Olimpija Ljubljana on Sunday, the club’s official website described the preceding moment. It read: “Excellent work down the left from the overlapping Nathan Ake created an easy opening for Torres but, close to the goal-line, he could only chest his effort up and over the bar.”
It was an accurate review, but kind for the understandable compassion - he is a Chelsea player and the owner’s indulgence.
But it was a dreadful, incomprehensible miss, worse than the open goal he failed to find after rounding David de Gea at Old Trafford in September 2011.
Three years on, having contributed a bit (his goal away at Barcelona in 2012 was a wonderful moment) and blushed a lot, his miss in Slovenia was worse. It was two yards out. Opting to use his chest at that height was bizarre; that he could get it over the bar with any body part from so close almost impressive.
What has happened to him? There are always explanations with Torres. It’s the confidence thing, or the injuries and what they have done to his acceleration. Expectations. Truth in all, no doubt.
But whatever storm is going on in his mind and body, the sights are uncomfortable, not least because in the passage of three-and-a-half years some, regrettably, might just have forgotten what a good player he was.
Solanke was nine at the start of the 2007/08 season, when Torres scored 33 goals in 46 games and was voted the third best player in the world.
Now, surely, is the time for him to move on.
Diego Costa has come in and so has Didier Drogba. Mourinho admires Costa and adores Drogba. What place can there be for a £50m signing, not regarded as a ‘real striker’ and whose security net - Roman Abramovich’s affection - has apparently disappeared?
Then what for the 30-year-old? One can only hope that Atletico, Monaco or someone else stump up or Chelsea and Torres lower their respective bars. He might then be able to find - and sustain - some form.